Kentucky overcame a sluggish start to go toe-to-toe with Ole Miss, but like too many other times in the 2020-21 season, the Wildcats came up short down the stretch. The Rebels snapped an 11-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 70-62 win at The Pavillion, dropping John Calipari’s team to 8-15 on the season.
To say Kentucky slept-walk through the first 15 minutes of the game might be an understatement. They hit only five shots during that span against Ole Miss’ 1-3-1 zone. Fortunately, that defeated feeling would not linger for long.
In less than 90 seconds Kentucky made it a one-possession game, springing to life with an 8-0 run behind a pair of UK three-pointers. For the next 15 minutes of action, the two teams went to war.
Davion Mintz made one big three after another, Olivier Sarr (15 points) got to the free throw line and Keion Brooks (16 points, 8 rebounds) finished strong in the paint. As Kentucky prepared to pull away, Devontae Shuler had other plans. The Rebels’ star guard seemingly had a response to every UK bucket, giving Ole Miss enough life until opportunity struck. Shuler led all scorers with 17 points.
Whatever momentum Kentucky had in the back and forth battle was lost when Isaiah Jackson was whistled for his fourth foul with 9:14 remaining. Initially it appeared to be an offensive hook, yet Jackson was sent to the sideline. The ‘and one’ turned a tie ballgame into a 61-54 Ole Miss lead five minutes later, a deficit Kentucky could never overcome.
The Wildcats got within five points inside the final minute. Mintz found Sarr for a pick-and-pop three, but like so many other times this season, his shot was off the mark. Fifteen losses later and each one is still as deflating as the previous.