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: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto952799
Hinds9520193
Harrison6801105
Jackson6043116
Rankin521996
Lee477094
Madison4595102
Forrest360685
Jones341687
Lauderdale3340142
Lafayette312047
Washington3043106
Lamar273849
Bolivar237583
Oktibbeha237460
Lowndes227562
Neshoba2170113
Panola210347
Marshall206547
Leflore200389
Pontotoc192527
Monroe188877
Sunflower188754
Lincoln183664
Warren171757
Tate163049
Pike159958
Union159025
Copiah158840
Yazoo149538
Scott149429
Coahoma146742
Itawamba144433
Simpson143153
Alcorn142724
Pearl River142067
Prentiss138426
Grenada135844
Adams134148
Leake131643
Holmes124261
George121523
Tippah120430
Covington116434
Winston115824
Wayne115522
Hancock113337
Marion109046
Attala106133
Tishomingo105542
Newton102829
Chickasaw102132
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88153
Clay86226
Jasper80421
Walthall73728
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Stone71014
Carroll70114
Lawrence69814
Noxubee68917
Smith68616
Yalobusha67626
Perry63925
Tunica59519
Greene58222
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis53817
Humphreys52318
Amite50714
Benton48217
Quitman4766
Webster41614
Kemper40615
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson33511
Franklin3155
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1094
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 232506

Reported Deaths: 3457
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30318491
Mobile19260356
Tuscaloosa12446148
Madison12204146
Montgomery12000232
Shelby971276
Baldwin819984
Lee750464
Morgan610447
Calhoun5964113
Etowah585764
Marshall579453
Houston503338
DeKalb460835
Cullman409636
Limestone400844
St. Clair396055
Elmore391061
Lauderdale378353
Walker348096
Talladega334042
Colbert294341
Jackson290524
Blount275436
Autauga261739
Franklin243633
Coffee230315
Dale225454
Dallas219631
Russell21753
Chilton216137
Covington212333
Escambia194031
Tallapoosa168590
Chambers167548
Clarke154919
Pike154714
Marion133935
Winston122523
Lawrence121436
Geneva11678
Marengo116424
Barbour116010
Pickens114118
Bibb113617
Butler113341
Randolph99521
Cherokee98524
Hale91531
Washington89818
Clay88823
Henry8386
Fayette83116
Lowndes78529
Monroe76811
Cleburne74214
Crenshaw70030
Macon69420
Bullock68919
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Wilcox62318
Lamar6227
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene39917
Coosa3064
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