KSR Gameday: Kentucky Basketball and Ryan Lemond hit the road

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson02/27/24


There are Tuesdays and then there are Super Tuesdays. Today, we have not one, not two, but three sporting events to keep an eye on.

We’ll start with the biggest. At 7 p.m. ET, the No. 16 Kentucky Basketball team looks to build on the momentum from the Alabama win on the road at Mississippi State. It hasn’t even been a week since the Cats lost at LSU, so tonight’s game is big for not only the resume (it’s a Quad 1 contest) but continuity. With back-to-back home games vs. Arkansas and Vanderbilt on the horizon, Kentucky has a great opportunity to take a four-game winning streak to Knoxville for the regular-season finale vs. Tennessee. That journey starts today.

Before all of that, the Kentucky Baseball team hosts Western Kentucky, the Bat Cats’ first game back from a three-game road trip to Texas. Ryan Lemond is also attempting his own athletic feat, a five-plus mile walk across Lexington.

So many things to preview, so little time. Let’s get to it.

Kentucky takes on red-hot Mississippi State at the Hump

Which Kentucky Basketball team will we see tonight, the one that molly-wopped Alabama at Rupp on Saturday or the one that blew a 16-point second-half lead at LSU on Wednesday? A strong performance on the road against a red-hot Mississippi State team would go a long way toward believing this team is more the former than the latter.

The Cats have beaten the Bulldogs once this season, 90-77, back on Jan. 17. It was one of the most impressive offensive performances of the season, against a Mississippi State defense that ranked in the top 15 nationally. Tolu Smith had 26 points, but the Bulldogs’ other star, current Co-SEC Freshman of the Week Josh Hubbard, only scored three points on 1-11 shooting, 1-9 from three. Since the loss in Rupp, Mississippi State is 7-3. The Bulldogs have won five straight, the longest active winning streak in the SEC, most recently beating LSU by 20 in Baton Rouge. Hubbard had six threes in that one.

Mississippi State is No. 28 in the NET Rankings, making this a Quad 1 game on Kentucky’s team sheet. The Cats’ record in Quad 1 is now 5-5; adding another win to that would boost an NCAA Tournament resume that’s already trending up. It would also be significant for SEC Tournament seeding, as Kentucky is currently tied with Florida for fifth in the standings and chasing the double-bye in Nashville. To get it, the Cats need to show much more maturity than they did vs. LSU last week. Humphrey Coliseum is sold out and Mississippi State fans will be decked out in all-white for what they’re calling the biggest home game in a decade. Can the Cats handle it?

Will Tre Mitchell play?

Tre Mitchell has missed three games with a shoulder injury suffered vs. Ole Miss. There were whispers he could return vs. Alabama, but he was ruled out ahead of tipoff. Jack Pilgrim is hearing Mitchell has been ramping up his efforts in practice and is considered a game-time decision tonight.

Whenever Mitchell returns, how will that impact Kentucky’s new rotations, specifically at the four and five spots? The Cats struck gold vs. Alabama with the lineup of Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, and Zvonimir Ivisic, which scored 28 points in just six minutes. That combination may not work against physical foes like Mississippi State, but hopefully, we get to see it again.

What is Calipari’s latest “hunch”?

Part of the reason we got to see that lineup vs. Alabama was an epiphany John Calipari had on Friday to play Big Z more. In previewing today’s game vs. Mississippi State, assistant coach Chin Coleman said Calipari — “the GOAT” — has another “hunch.”

“Last game, the GOAT had a hunch,” said Coleman. “He had a hunch. He went with his gut to play [Zvonimir Ivisic] with four guys that he kind of liked to see Z play with. That hunch was part of the explosion that you saw.

We met, he’s got another hunch. He’s the GOAT. So, we’ll see what happens with this next game.”

Coleman said we may not see that hunch until the tournament due to the physical nature of SEC play, but it sounds entertaining.

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How to Watch/Listen, Odds

Jimmy Dykes, Karl Ravech, and Marty Smith will be on the call tonight in Starkville. With just 19 days until Selection Sunday, that means we’ll probably see Jimmy’s Jet.

  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • StreamingWatchESPN
  • 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

Kentucky opened as a 2.5-point underdog on FanDuel. Since then, the line has moved to Mississippi State -3.5 with the total set at 156.5 points. Kentucky’s team total is 76.5.

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SEC Standings – Feb. 27

With four regular-season games remaining, Kentucky is tied with Florida for fifth place in the SEC. Two games back from Tennessee, there are a ton of scenarios still on the table. The Cats could technically still win the conference or could finish as low as 10th. Yet another reason tonight is big.

South Carolina10-4122-5
Mississippi State8-6319-8
Ole Miss6-8519-8
Texas A&M6-8515-12

Kentucky Baseball hosts Western Kentucky

How about a little baseball to lead into your basketball? Today at 4 p.m., Kentucky (6-1) hosts Western Kentucky (6-2) at Kentucky Proud Park. The Bat Cats went 2-1 at the Karbach Round Rock Classic in Texas over the weekend, beating Texas State and Kansas and losing to Washington State. Today’s game marks the start of an extended home stretch, with the Cats playing at Kentucky Proud Park for 13 of the next 14 games, the one road trip being to Eastern Kentucky on March 6.

You can stream the game live on SEC Network+ or listen on the UK Sports Network (98.5 FM locally).

College Basketball on TV tonight

Kentucky vs. Mississippi State is one of three SEC games tonight. Thankfully, it should start right on time because it’s the first game of the night on ESPN.

  • 7:00 PM (ESPN): No. 16 Kentucky vs. Mississippi State (-3.5)
  • 7:00 PM (SECN): Georgia vs. LSU (-4.5)
  • 7:00 PM (ESPN2): Cincinnati vs. No. 1 Houston (-13.5)
  • 7:00 PM (CBSSN): Davidson vs. No. 21 Dayton (-9.5)
  • 8:00 PM (BIG12/ESPN+): BYU vs. No. 7 Kansas (-6.5)
  • 9:00 PM (SECN): Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas (-9.5)
  • 10:00 PM: No. 22 Utah State (-11.5) vs. Fresno State
  • 11:00 PM (CBSSN): San Jose State vs. No. 20 San Diego State (-22.5)

Can Ryan Lemond walk 5.4 miles by Noon?

That’s the question we’ll soon know the answer to, as Ryan Lemond makes the trek from KSBar and Grille to Clark’s Pump-N-Shop on Lucille Drive throughout today’s show. Why is he doing this? A few weeks ago, Ryan refused to believe that KSR’s favorite gas station opened a location on Lucille Drive near Masterson Station Park. He, of course, was wrong, so now, he’ll get to see it for himself after a lovely 5.4-mile walk.

If Ryan crosses the finish line by noon, the first 50 people who greet him at Clark’s will receive a free coffee or soft drink on the house. He’s taking off during the final segment of the KSR Preshow, which starts right now on 630 WLAP and affiliates across the state. Here is his path:

If he makes it, someone order him a Donato’s Pizza.

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