EditorsNote: 4th graf, add Carter’s first name
Junior forward Nick Richards scored 25 of his game-high 27 points in the second half as No. 15 Kentucky beat Mississippi State 80-72 Tuesday night in Lexington, Ky., to remain tied with Auburn for second place behind LSU in the Southeastern Conference race.
Richards also had 11 rebounds for his 11th career double-double and 10th of the season. Immanuel Quickley added 21 points and EJ Montgomery had a nice all-around game with 12 points, eight rebounds and a season-high three steals for the Wildcats (17-5, 7-2 SEC).
D.J. Stewart Jr. and Robert Woodard II each had 15 points for the Bulldogs (14-8, 5-4), who had won their past five conference games. Reggie Perry struggled early but finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Perry fouled out with 1:02 left after shooting 4 of 16 from the floor.
The Wildcats opened up a 13-point lead in the first three minutes of the second half and maintained a double-digit edge most of the rest of the way until the Bulldogs pulled within 60-54 on Tyson Carter’s 3-pointer with 4:34 remaining.
It was still a six-point game when Richards came up with a big rebound of Montgomery’s missed free throw with 2:24 left. Four free throws by Richards and two by Ashton Hagans over the next minute boosted the Wildcats’ lead to 70-58.
The Wildcats scored the first seven points of the game and went to the locker room up 31-23 as the Bulldogs struggled from the field, shooting only 31 percent (9 of 29). They ended the game shooting 36.8 percent (25 of 68) to Kentucky’s 44.4 percent (24 of 54). The Wildcats sank only one 3-pointer on 10 tries while Mississippi State was 5 of 16 from long range.
The Wildcats are on the road for their next two games, at Tennessee on Saturday and Vanderbilt on Feb. 11. Mississippi State hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday.
—Field Level Media