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No. 8 Kentucky closes out No. 22 Mississippi State

Mississippi State hosts No. 16 Auburn in SEC play on Saturday.

Posted: Jan 22, 2019 10:50 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s defense wasn’t perfect against Mississippi State, just quick enough to disrupt the No. 22 Bulldogs’ rhythm and cause its worst offensive performance this season.

The No. 8 Wildcats now aim to keep it going after clearing the second of three big challenges.

PJ Washington scored 21 points, including a big 3-pointer down the stretch, Tyler Herro added 18 and Kentucky pulled away from Mississippi State 76-55 on Tuesday night for its fifth consecutive victory.

The Wildcats (15-3, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) also emerged with a lot to like in beating their second of three ranked opponents before hosting No. 9 Kansas on Saturday.

They led for all but the early minutes, but had to survive some rough stretches that allowed the Bulldogs (14-4, 2-3) to get within 41-39 with 13:39 remaining. Kentucky answered with scoring 18 of the next 25 points over the next 6:50, helped by Herro’s three free throws and consecutive 3s by Immanuel Quickley and Washington, for a double-digit advantage it maintained.

Defense helped as Kentucky held the Bulldogs (14-4, 2-3) to season lows in points and shooting (31 percent) behind timely plays that swung the game. The biggest was EJ Montgomery’s out-of-nowhere swat of Quinndary Weatherspoon’s layup attempt, leading to Nick Richard’s dunk that snuffed MSU’s last chance to close the gap. His block was among eight by the Wildcats.

“It was pretty important,” Herro said of the play. “EJ made a big block that kind of helped us and sparked us and we kind of took off from there.”

Kentucky on the other hand shot 44 percent but 8 of 16 from long range.

Washington was 9 of 15 from the field with three 3s for his first 20-point game in over a month. He also grabbed six rebounds and matched a season high with four blocks.

“I felt like I was just hitting shots tonight,” Washington said. “They was just falling. I could’ve done a lot more on the defensive end and rebound more. There’s always room for improvement.”

Herro made all three from long range and all five free throws to follow his 20-point performance at Auburn. Reid Travis grabbed 12 rebounds and Ashton Hagans a career-high nine assists as the Wildcats won the glass 43-36 and won the second of three consecutive Top-25 matchups.

Kentucky also succeeded in holding MSU’s potent perimeter game to just 3 of 20 from behind the arc after entering the contest second in the SEC at 38 percent.

Quinndary Weatherspoon had 19 points and Tyson Carter 11 for the Bulldogs, who made just 19 of 61 from the field (31 percent) in their first game against a ranked foe this season.

“We were rushed offensively tonight,” Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said. “I think they did a good job of speeding us up and getting us playing faster and not really controlled enough offensively.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wildcats should remain in the Top 10 after clearing the first of two ranked opponents this week. The Bulldogs will need to beat Auburn on Saturday to remain ranked.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs brought in balanced offense but struggled despite a bunch of opportunities, especially from long range. Forward and Kentucky native Aric Holman missed his only two attempts in 20 minutes. MSU also committed 15 turnovers leading to 17 Kentucky points.

“Sometimes you have those nights you’re struggling from 3-point range,” freshman guard Robert Woodard said. “We were struggling all over tonight. We just have to get back in the gym and make things work.”

Kentucky: The Wildcats offset strong stretches with sloppy moments that allowed MSU to get close. But they slowly regrouped to close with a flourish and remain a game within the unbeaten leaders in the SEC.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State hosts No. 16 Auburn in SEC play on Saturday.

Kentucky hosts No. 9 Kansas on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
Tishomingo226667
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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