It figured to take the game of the season for LSU, and maybe even the game of some of the Tigers' lives Tuesday night when No. 11-ranked Kentucky sauntered into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on a frigid and icy night in Baton Rouge.

That script was followed very well, and now the notion of LSU playing in the NCAA Tournament has renewed life.

The Tigers surged to a 16-point lead early on and then withstood every Wildcat threat the rest of the night on the way to an 87-82 victory in front of 3,500 students and a few thousand other hearty souls.

LSU (13-6, 4-3 SEC) nabbed its most signature win of the season, clipping a Kentucky team that came in with a robust RPI of 12.

"We needed this game really bad," freshman forward Jordan Mickey said after he and Jarell Martin thoroughly outplayed Wildcats' first-year phenom Julius Randle and his cohorts inside. "We went out and executed our game plan for the whole 40 minutes. Our crowd was great to come out in this type of weather. They brought a lot of energy to the team. "

Added senior Shavon Coleman, who delivered 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, "That's a dream come true. I never thought that could happen. I love LSU basketball and the tradition, and it was awesome to be part of this."

And this one was as complete a performance as the Tigers have produced in a while to claim just their first victory over a ranked team this season and just their fourth since 2006.

Johnny O'Bryant was a man possessed with 29 points and 9 rebounds. Anthony Hickey teamed with Coleman at the front of a surprise 2-3 zone and also scored 11 points - again icing a win with four free throws in a row in crunch time - dished out 6 assists, stole the ball three times and didn't commit a turnover in 33 minutes.

Not to be overlooked, LSU's two highest touted freshman, Mickey and Martin, outplayed the much more ballyhooed Wildcats' crew. Mickey scored 14 points, snared 6 rebounds and swatted away 5 shots - most of those by Randle, who scored only 6 points and grabbed only 5 rebounds.

Martin started for the first time since Jan. 7 and was quietly effective with 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.

It wasn't a totally flawless performance by a talented team that still shows some youth, with Kentucky (15-5, 5-2 SEC) making several lunges in the first half to erase the big deficit and then late to make things a little uncomfortable.

But it was as close to perfect as it needed to be.