An excellent performance by E.J. Montgomery and a 25-point second half surge by Nick Richards helped hold off a late comeback bid by Mississippi State. John Calipari’s record against the Bulldogs from Starkville improved to 15-0 following the 80-72 victory at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky was not sleepy for the 9 p.m. ET tip-off. The Wildcats surged to a 7-0 lead to start the game and began the second half with a 7-2 run to build a comfortable lead against the Bulldogs.
Ben Howland’s team used a late run to cut the deficit to six with 4:36 on the clock. After playing most of the game outside of a double digits, Miss. State hung around into the final minute thanks to a late technical foul on Coach Cal. Try as they may, the Bulldogs did not have enough to overcome the effort by UK’s bigs.
E.J. Montgomery scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but his best work may have been on the defensive end. The sophomore power forward forced four turnovers and kept Reggie Perry in check with the help of Nick Richards. After struggling against Auburn, Richards had a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds to record another double-double.
UK’s post players outscored Miss. State 38-28 in the paint, yet they were out-rebounded (38-37) by the Bulldogs and gave up 22 second chance points. Another box score oddity: Immanuel Quickley scored 21 points on only three made field goals.