Kentucky and Mississippi State appear headed in opposite directions going into Wednesday night’s Southeastern Conference matchup in Starkville, Miss.
The Wildcats (16-9, 7-5 SEC) have lost two in a row following a 7-1 stretch after dropping a 75-68 conference contest at Georgia.
Meanwhile, after struggling through a 1-8 run that included seven league losses, the Bulldogs (17-8, 5-7) have won five consecutive outings to put themselves in the conversation for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The latest was a 70-64 win at Arkansas on Saturday, their second road win in the streak that began after 66-63 loss at Alabama on Jan. 25.
Led by Dashawn Davis’ 17 points, four players scored in double figures for the Bulldogs against Arkansas. Shakeel Moore added 12 along with five assists and five rebounds. Leading scorer Tolu Smith, the only Bulldogs’ player averaging in double figures for the season (14.6 per game), went for 11, and Cameron Matthews added 10.
Bulldogs coach Chris Jans hopes the victory at Arkansas will stir fans to fill up Humphrey Coliseum (10,575 capacity) for the outing against the Wildcats.
“We need the Hump to rock,” Jans said. “If you can’t make it and you’re a season ticket holder, please try to find a way to get people in your seats. If you need help, please email us or call us. We’ll do our darnedest to create an environment because it’s a heck of an opportunity for us.”
Injuries continue to plague Kentucky in its up-and-down season. With Sahvir Wheeler (ankle) and CJ Fredrick (rib) sitting out the loss at Georgia, the scoring load fell on three players. Oscar Tshiebwe (20 points), Antonio Reeves (20) and Jacob Toppin (12) accounted for all but 16 points of Kentucky’s total.
Even without two starters, the Wildcats led 52-48 under the 12-minute mark but found themselves down 10 points in the final minute.
“We had a couple of guys out,” coach John Calipari said. “So, would they have made a difference? Maybe, but give Georgia all the credit. They deserve it.”
–Field Level Media