Game recap: UK wins handily against Miss. State

Mississippi State v Kentucky
Mississippi State v Kentucky / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

On a cold, snowy night in Lexington, the Kentucky Wildcats prevailed against formidable foe Mississippi State to the score of 90-77, which covered the spread line and the total projected points. The Bulldogs offered little resistance to Kentucky’s high-octane offense. This game produced some eye-catching numbers, led by Senior Antonio Reeves. 

Numbers don’t lie

Wednesday’s victory gave Coach Calipari his 400th win at the University of Kentucky. It also moves him to a whopping 18-1 record against Mississippi State at the helm. Kentucky has scored at least 81 points in 15 of 16 games for the first time in the school’s history. This was the 9th time that Kentucky has scored at least 90 points in a game, including 3 straight. Despite playing the second-slowest pace of the season and recording only 70 total possessions, Kentucky had one of its best offensive games. The Wildcats led for 97% of the game, scoring easily from all 3 levels despite attempting the fewest shots of the season at 54. Kentucky is the highest-scoring team in the NCAA averaging 90.8 points per game. 

Reeves party

Antonio Reeves had an excellent offensive performance for the home crowd. Reeves had his most efficient and productive game of conference play. He notched 27 points while shooting 8/12 and knocking in all 9 of his free throw attempts. Reeves is currently 3rd in the SEC averaging 19.4 points per game. 

Justin Edwards + Mitchell/Bradshaw/Ugo

Now that Adou Theiro’s absence due to “general soreness” is becoming consistent, Coach Calipari is experimenting with Justin Edwards playing in the 4 position as a stretch forward alongside one of his trio of bigs, Tre Mitchell, Aaron Bradshaw, and Ugonna Onyenso. This lineup did not occur against Missouri. Against Florida, Edwards played alongside Bradshaw for 3 of 78 possessions. Against Texas A&M, Edwards played alongside Mitchell for 8 of  77 possessions. Wednesday, against Mississippi State, Edwards saw a spike playing alongside Bradshaw for 18 of 68 possessions. Lots of Kentucky fans are patiently waiting for Edwards to take off and it appears Coach Calipari is working him into a favorable lineup that would allow him to play offensive with more space. Keep an eye on this trend.

Team Defense & Team Rebounding

After giving up a season-high 97 points in the loss at Texas A&M, Coach Calipari knew adjustments on defense would be a popular topic. In the victory against Mississippi State, Calipari seemed pleased with the tweaks that were integrated. Collectively, the guards still struggled to stay locked on to shooters along the perimeter and the wings/forwards allowed a team-high 44 points in the paint. However, they played the pick-and-roll much better and seemed to bite less on the pump fakes that have plagued them so far. Kentucky fans know that 1 game will not solve the ongoing struggles. Let's hope we see continued progress on the defensive side on Saturday versus another Bulldogs team. 

Looking ahead

Kentucky will have its hands full against Mike White and the surging Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia picked up another win against South Carolina on Tuesday and will come into Rupp winners of 11 of their last 12 games. Georgia is one of the tallest teams in the NCAA but their size is primarily used along the perimeter as they do not allow many 3-point attempts. Kentucky will put its top-ranked offense against one of the better defensive teams in the conference. It’ll be a big one in Rupp on Saturday night.