On Monday, Kentucky learned that it was ranked outside of the top 25 for the first time in 68 weeks. On Tuesday, the Wildcats began the task to rectify that situation with a 78-65 victory over visiting Mississippi State.
Freshman forward PJ Washington led the victory with 22 points, including 10-of-14 from the free throw line. Freshman Kevin Knox added 19 and freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 16.
Kentucky trailed 52-49 with 12:46 to play when the Wildcats went on a 13-2 run to grab a 62-54 lead with 7:01 remaining and coasted to victory from there. Knox scored five points and Washington had four during the rally.
For the game, Kentucky shot 43.1 percent, including 35.7 from 3-point range. The Wildcats had 41 rebounds, 11 assists and 11 turnovers
Missisippi State got 19 points from Quinndary Weatherspoon and 10 from Nick Weatherspoon. The Bulldogs shot 38.8 percent, but only 17.2 percent from 3-point range on 5-of-29 shooting. They had 31 rebounds, 16 assists and 11 turnovers.
Kentucky (15-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) was coming off back-to-back losses for only the ninth time in coach John Calipari’s nine seasons in Lexington. The Wildcats never have lost three in a row under Calipari and average a 14.9-point victory in the bounce-back game. They won by 13 Tuesday.
Mississippi State (14-6, 2-5) has now lost five of its last six conference games after opening the season 13-1. The Bulldogs are 0-11 all-time against Kentucky with Calipari as coach.
Kentucky battled to a 38-36 lead after halftime. Knox led the way with 13 points, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Washington added 11. As a team, UK shot 41.9 percent.
Mississippi State got nine points from Quinndary Weatherspoon and six from Holman. The Bulldogs shot 39.4 percent. Both teams had 18 rebounds.
Kentucky steps out of SEC play on Saturday when the Wildcats travel to face West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Mississippi State plays Missouri in an SEC contest.
--Field Level Media