Kentucky at Mississippi State: Preview, Odds, How to Watch

On3 imageby:Jack Pilgrim02/26/24

Kentucky has been atop the basketball world in back-to-back weekends, though a mid-week black eye is keeping most from buying back all of the stock they may have sold following the buzzer-beating loss at LSU on Wednesday. Now, a shot at redemption in yet another mid-week road trip, this time to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

It’s an MSU team that has won five straight and is looking for revenge itself after taking a 90-77 loss in Lexington back on January 17. Can the Cats officially turn the page on these unnecessary speed bumps and head into March with extended momentum? Let’s preview the matchup.

How To Watch

No. 16 Kentucky (19-8) at Mississippi State (19-8)
7 p.m. ET | Tuesday, Feb. 27 | Humphrey Coliseum

  • TV: ESPN (Karl Ravech, Jimmy Dykes, Marty Smith)
  • Streaming: WatchESPN
  • Home Radio: UK Sports Network – 630 WLAP, iHeart Radio (Tom Leach, Goose Givens)
  • Online RadioiHeart
  • Satellite Radio: Sirius 106 or 190 and the SiriusXM App
  • Live StatsStatBroadcast

Last Five

Kentucky: NET 19, KenPom 17

  • 2/10: 89-85 L vs. Gonzaga
  • 2/13: 75-63 W vs. Ole Miss
  • 2/17: 70-59 W at No. 13 Auburn
  • 2/21: 75-74 L at LSU
  • 2/24: 117-95 W vs. No. 13 Alabama

Mississippi State: NET 28, KenPom 28

  • 2/7: 75-62 W vs. Georgia
  • 2/10: 75-51 W at Missouri
  • 2/17: 71-67 W vs. Arkansas
  • 2/21: 83-71 W vs. Ole Miss
  • 2/24: 87-67 W at LSU

Series History

Kentucky leads the all-time series 95-19 with wins in 18 of the last 19 matchups — all under John Calipari. Coach Cal, 18-1 against the Bulldogs dating back to the 2009-10 season, suffered his lone loss during the COVID year in 2020-21. That was a 74-73 defeat in the SEC Tournament.

The Wildcats won the first matchup this season in Lexington 90-77, Antonio Reeves leading the way with 27 points to go with four rebounds and three assists in a team-high 31 minutes. Rob Dillingham added 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, followed by Tre Mitchell with 15 points and Aaron Bradshaw with 11 to round out double-figure scorers. Tolu Smith led the Bulldogs with 26 points, followed by Trey Fort with 13.

One play from every win over Mississippi State since 1995

Kentucky vs. Mississippi State Odds via FanDuel

Spread: Mississippi State -2.5
Total: 157.5

Kentucky Projected Starters

(Starting lineup based on the last game)

D.J. Wagner

#15 – DJ Wagner
6-4 • 192 • GUARD • FRESHMAN
10.2 PPG, 3.4 APG

Antonio Reeves

#12 – Antonio Reeves
6-6 • 195 • GUARD • SENIOR
19.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG

Justin Edwards

#1 – Justin Edwards
6-8 • 203 • GUARD • FRESHMAN
8.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG

Adou Thiero

#4 – Adou Thiero
6-8 • 222 • GUARD • SOPHOMORE
7.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG

Ugonna Onyenso

#2 – Ugonna Onyenso
7-1 • 226 • FORWARD • FRESHMAN
4.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 BPG

Head Coach: John Calipari (32nd season, 15th at UK) – 851-261 overall, 406-121 at UK

Mississippi State Projected Starters

(Starting lineup based on the last game)

Josh Hubbard

#13 – Josh Hubbard
5-10 • 190 • GUARD • FRESHMAN
15.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.7 APG

Shakeel Moore

#3 – Shakeel Moore
6-1 • 190 • GUARD • SENIOR
8.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 APG

Shawn Jones Jr.

#5 – Shawn Jones Jr.
6-5 • 205 • GUARD • SOPHOMORE
5.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG

Cameron Matthews

#4 – Cameron Matthews 
6-7 • 230 • FORWARD • SENIOR
9.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG

Jimmy Bell Jr.

#15 – Jimmy Bell Jr.
6-10 • 280 • FORWARD • GRAD SENIOR
5.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG

Head Coach: Chris Jans (2nd season at Mississippi State, 8th overall): 40-21 at MSU, 183-65 overall

Statistical Comparison

(via Kentucky’s game notes)

Fun stats from UK’s game notes:

  • Kentucky has not played a complete game at full strength this season.
  • Antonio Reeves has scored in double figures in all but one game and has 15 games with 20 or more points. He is the only Power 5 player in the country averaging at least 1.5 made 3-pointers and at least .490 from the field, .400 from 3-point range and .860 from the free-throw line.
  • Justin Edwards scored a career-high 28 points vs. Alabama. He was 10 of 10 from the floor and 4 of 4 from 3-point range. He’s only the third player in program history to make all of his shots with at least 10 attempts, and first with at least one 3-pointer. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts.
  • With four games to go, UK currently sits in fifth in the SEC standings with a first-place finish still in play.

Pregame Storylines

WILL TRE MITCHELL PLAY?

Mitchell returned following a two-game absence dealing with a back issue vs. Ole Miss, then suffered a shoulder injury that forced him off the floor yet again. He missed the Auburn and LSU games, then was considered a game-time decision vs. Alabama before being ruled out ahead of tipoff. Could he return against a tough and physical Mississippi State frontcourt loaded with size and skill? The fifth-year senior is ramping up his practice efforts and is inching closer toward a return, but should still be considered a game-time decision. Balancing short-term convenience vs. long-term need is key.

BATTLE OF SEC CO-FRESHMEN OF THE WEEK

Justin Edwards exploded for a career-high 28 points on a perfect 10-10 shooting in Kentucky’s win over Alabama — his true breakthrough moment as a Wildcat. It was a pretty easy decision to include him in the league’s weekly honors in some form or fashion. But he’d have to share SEC Freshman of the Week honors with another standout in Mississippi State’s Josh Hubbard, who went for a career-high 32 points in the team’s most recent win at LSU. They were two of the top individual performances of the week in statement victories. Can they sustain that production in Starkville? In Edwards’ case, that’d certainly help Kentucky’s chances.

HOW DO YOU SLOW DOWN TOLU SMITH?

The Bulldogs recently made the rare decision to bring their star player off the bench, doing so in back-to-back wins vs. Ole Miss and at LSU. Smith went for 24 points in 25 minutes in the former matchup, then 19 points in 28 minutes in the latter. He’s averaging 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds on the year, one of the top frontcourt players in the SEC. The 6-11, 245-pound forward went for a season-high 26 points in MSU’s loss in Lexington back on Jan. 17, so the Cats are certain to have Smith at or near the top of their scouting report heading down to Starkville. In Smith’s spot in the starting lineup? 6-10, 280-pound behemoth Jimmy Bell Jr, who is averaging career highs in points (5.9) and rebounds (6.1) as a senior.

ONE OF THE HOTTEST TEAMS IN THE SEC

You may have noticed Kentucky’s win over Mississippi State jumped to Quad 1 status recently, giving the Cats five on the year overall. Why? Well, the Bulldogs have moved up to No. 28 in the NET following a string of five consecutive wins in league play, four by double digits. Their run started with a win over Georgia. then at Missouri, vs. Arkansas and Ole Miss before beating down LSU by 20 points in Baton Rouge. MSU opened SEC play with a tough 3-6 record taking on eight Quad 1 opponents in nine total matchups, but quickly regained momentum as the schedule balanced out.


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2024-04-22