LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — PJ Washington had a career-high 22 points, Kevin Knox scored 19 with four 3-pointers and Kentucky pulled away late for a 78-65 victory over Mississippi State Tuesday night to end a two-game losing streak.
A day after the Wildcats fell out of the Top 25 for the first time since March 2014, Washington and Knox helped end their skid from the foul line and perimeter respectively. Washington made 10 of 14 free throws along with 6-of-10 shooting to top his previous best by two points. Knox overcame an initial missed layup to hit all four from behind the arc to finish 5- of-6 shooting from the floor and from the line.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 16 points, including eight in the second half to help Kentucky (15-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) eventually seize a back-and-forth game between schools coming off losses. The Wildcats shot 43 percent.
Quinndary Weatherspoon had 19 points and Nick Weatherspoon 10 for the Bulldogs (14-6, 2-5), who shot just 39 percent and were outrebounded 41-31 while losing their second straight SEC contest and fifth in sixth games.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs entered as one of the SEC's top rebounding teams in league play, ranking fourth offensively at 12.2 and third defensively at 26.5 per game. They were even at 18 in the first half and outscored Kentucky 11-2, but were beaten 23-13 after halftime.
Kentucky: Ball protection was a priority for the Wildcats after committing 33 turnovers in consecutive losses. They were much better this time, turning it over just 11 times and playing more composed down the stretch. Controlling the boards was key with Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt each grabbing seven while Knox, Washington and Wenyen Gabriel had six each.
Mississippi State: Hosts Missouri on Saturday.
Kentucky: Visits No. 7 West Virginia on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.