Mississippi State (7-19) at Kentucky (19-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 27, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rupp Arena (23,500) -- Lexington, Kentucky.
Television: SEC Network. Home Record: MSU 5-7, UK 14-2. Away Record: MSU 1-9,
UK 4-5. Neutral Record: MSU 1-3, UK 1-1. Conference Record: MSU 2-12, UK 10-4.
Series Record: Kentucky, 88-20.
GAME NOTES: A pair of squads at opposite ends of the SEC standings face off on
Wednesday night, as the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the Mississippi State
Bulldogs to legendary Rupp Arena.
Since starting its SEC slate with a pair of wins, Mississippi State (7-19) has
been spiraling out of control with 12 straight losses, the second-longest
conference losing streak in program history. The Bulldogs' season reached a
new low in its 72-31 home loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, and at 2-12 in the
league, they sit all alone in last place.
Since dropping a pair of road tilts at Florida (69-52) and Tennessee (88-58)
earlier in the month, Kentucky has bounced back with two straight wins over
Vanderbilt (74-70) and Missouri (90-83 in OT). The Wildcats started the season
as one of the favorites to compete for a second straight national title, but
now at 19-8 overall and in second place in the SEC (10-4), it is simply
fighting for a chance to be selected to the NCAA Tournament field.
Kentucky has beaten Mississippi State on five straight occasions to improve
its record in the all-time series to 88-20. The Wildcats have been especially
dominant over the Bulldogs in Lexington (44-5).
Mississippi State was nothing short of woeful in its 41-point loss to
Vanderbilt over the weekend, as it shot just 7-of-40 from the field (.175),
the fewest field goals in a game for the team in the modern era (since 1950).
It also got man-handled on the boards (51-17), and the only thing saving it
from further embarrassment was a solid 15-of-18 showing from the foul line.
The squad was without a double-digit scorer on the afternoon, with Jalen
Steele coming off the bench to lead the way with nine points. The Bulldogs'
entire season has been an exercise in futility, as they rank last in the SEC
in both scoring offense (59.3 ppg) and scoring defense (69.0 ppg), and their
-9.7 scoring margin is more than three times worse than the next-lowest team.
Craig Sword, Fred Thomas and Steele all score between 9.4 and 9.8 ppg, while
Gavin Ware (8.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is having a solid freshman season.
Although Kentucky surrendered its advantage late after leading for most of the
second half against Missouri, Willie-Cauley Stein was able to force overtime
with a game-tying layup in the final minute of regulation, and the team shot
11-of-14 from the foul line in the extra session to seal the deal. The
Wildcats shot a lofty 50.8 percent on the evening and were paced by 24 points
from Julius Mays. Alex Poythress (21 points), Archie Goodwin (18 points) and
Ryan Harrows (16 points, six assists) were also impressive, while Cauley-Stein
made a lasting impact inside with 12 points and seven blocks. For the season,
UK scores 74.9 ppg on greater than 48 percent field goal shooting while giving
up less than 65 ppg, but it recently suffered a huge blow with the loss of
superstar freshman forward Nerlens Noel (10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.4 bpg, 2.1 spg)
to a torn ACL. Even without Noel, the Wildcats have plenty of talent. Fellow
freshmen Goodwin (13.9 ppg) and Poythress (11.9 ppg) are the team's leading
scorers, while Cauley-Stein (8.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg) has taken Noel's spot
in the starting lineup. Upperclassmen Kyle Wiltjer (11.3 ppg), Mays (9.9 ppg)
and Harrow (9.8 ppg) are all strong outside shooters.
With Mississippi State being blown out by a mediocre Vanderbilt squad on its
home floor, its difficult to imagine what kind dominating performance the
Wildcats are bound to break out. Expect this one to be over before the first
half is out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 91, Mississippi State 51
02/27 10:35:36 ET
Powered by The Sports Network.