Tonight, Kentucky will look to bounce back from back-to-back losses by taking on Mississippi State in Rupp Arena. We’ve got plenty of time until the 9 p.m. tip, so let’s make the most of it by getting to know Ben Howland’s Bulldogs.
1. They started the season really well
Mississippi State started the season on a roll, winning 12 of their first 13 games. Their only non-conference loss was at Cincinnati, which was ranked No. 25 at the time. They got a big win over No. 22 Arkansas to start SEC play, but…
2. They’ve lost four of their last five
In this year’s SEC, most of those losses are forgivable. In fact…
3. They almost beat Alabama on Saturday
As John Calipari pointed out yesterday, Mississippi State rallied from a 19-point deficit to tie it up with Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a minute and a half left, but couldn’t hang on to get the upset.
“We’ve got a team, Mississippi State, coming in here 14 wins, playing really good basketball. They’ve lost some games, but they’ve been in every game. Alabama had them down 20 and they came back and should have won the game. At Alabama. So, again – they’re really good.”
4. They haven’t won a road game in over a year
How bad are the Bulldogs on the road? They haven’t won a road game since January 10, 2017, when they beat Arkansas in Fayetteville 84-78. They’ve lost all eleven road games since.
5. The Weatherspoon brothers run the show
Junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon should be a pretty familiar name by now, but this year, he’s joined in the backcourt by his brother, Nick. Quinndary and Nick average 14.5 and 10.3 points, respectively. Nick was a five-star prospect who made headlines at the start of the school year when he was arrested for a DUI. Florida’s student section reminded him of the incident a few weeks back in Gainesville:
— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) January 11, 2018
That’s not very nice.
6. A Kentucky boy is their second leading scorer
There are two Kentucky boys on Mississippi State’s roster, both from Owensboro: junior Aric Holman and sophomore Eli Wright. Holman is the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 12.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Wright, who transferred from Apollo High School to 22 Feet Academy in South Carolina for his senior year of high school, actually asked for his release this summer because he wanted more playing time, but changed his mind. Right now, he’s averaging 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game, a five-minute increase over last season.
7. Mississippi State has not beaten Kentucky in the John Calipari Era
John Calipari is 11-0 vs. Mississippi State. The last time the Bulldogs beat the Cats? February 3, 2009, when they gave Kentucky its third straight loss. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again tonight.
8. ESPN’s BPI likes Kentucky’s chances
If you believe in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, take heart in the fact it gives the Cats an 81% chance of winning tonight.
9. This will be a homecoming for Neil Price
The former UK Hoops and UK Baseball play-by-play announcer is now the Voice of the Bulldogs. He’s already enjoying being back in his old stomping grounds:
Things to do when returning to Lexington:
1. Kiss my wife.??
2. Hit the Heezie.?? pic.twitter.com/ptdkXwZVA1
— Neil Price (@HailStateVoice) January 23, 2018
Lexington Mexican restaurant debate in the comments in 3…2…1…
10. Helmet Guy likes Kentucky by 18 points
Okay fine, he was talking about the 2012 team, but this video is a KSR classic.