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Men's Basketball

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss: TV/Streaming Info, Keys to the Game, and Predictions

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Reed Sheppard and Justin Edwards celebrating with each other at Rupp Arena.
Clare Grant/Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

For the first time in more than fifty years, the Kentucky Wildcats lost their third straight home game on Saturday, falling to Gonzaga 89-85, and it is safe to say that morale is low in Lexington. Despite that, the Wildcats will play Ole Miss on Tuesday, in hopes of not dropping a fourth in a row.

Coached by former National Coach of the Year, Chris Beard, the Rebels sit at 8th in the SEC, falling back to reality after a 13-0 start in the non-conference. While they are just 3-2 over their last five games, Ole Miss is playing some of their best basketball of the season. Of those five games, three have been quad-one contests, beating Texas A&M on the road and nearly upsetting South Carolina last week.

The Rebels are firmly on the bubble and in need of some resume-building wins. With that, they will likely come into Rupp Arena similar to Gonzaga, playing with nothing to lose, against a young Kentucky team and tense fanbase.

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Let’s look at the matchup.

Perimeter Defense

Unlike the traditional Chris Beard team, who are stout defensively, this Ole Miss team is the opposite, having one of the best offenses in the SEC. They don’t play at a fast pace, but they don’t turn the ball over and shoot the three at a high clip, 11th in the country.

Last week, John Calipari talked about the perimeter defense being an area that Kentucky needed to focus on. “We gotta guard the three-ball better,” he said. “We shoot it so well, that should be our advantage. We can’t be even.”

This will be a good contest to see where Kentucky stands. If the three-point battle is even, that will suggest a closer game than Kentucky wants.

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Take Care of the Ball

While this Ole Miss team is just 132nd in KenPom defensive efficiency, they are one of the best in steals and blocks. Their backcourt is pesky and will look to pressure guards and be aggressive in looking to steal some extra possessions.

Fortunately, Kentucky has been great at taking care of the ball this season. However, in two of their losses, South Carolina and Gonzaga, there have been key stretches where a handful of self-inflicted mistakes and turnovers have come back to bite them at the end of a close game.

That said, Kentucky should be able to take advantage of Ole Miss’ aggressiveness on off-ball cuts and screens going toward the basket and on the perimeter.

Will the Frontcourt Step Up?

With Tre Mitchell out with injury, there has been heightened criticism of Kentucky’s three seven-footers. Playing more minutes with Mitchell out, they haven’t rebounded or defended at the level Kentucky needs them to. In their last game against Gonzaga, the trio combined for just seven rebounds and Gonzaga scored 50 points in the paint.

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Ole Miss does not rebound at the level that some of the teams that Kentucky has stuggled against, but they do have a seven-footer of their own, Western Kentucky transfer and Hopkinsville native, Jamarion Sharp, who flirted with a triple-double against Kentucky back in 2021.

Kentucky needs more production from the “seven-footers”. If not, they will have to look at committing to the small ball approach they were so successful with at the beginning of the season, playing the seven-footers in spot minutes.

Opposing Players to Watch

G Matthew Murrell 6-4, 200 lbs

  • 16.8 PPG (6th in SEC)
  • 3.7 RPG
  • 1.8 SPG (6th in SEC)
  • 54 3PM (T-6th in SEC, 39.4% 3P)

G Jaylen Murray 5-11, 170 lbs

  • 14.3 PPG
  • 4.0 APG (7th in SEC)
  • 54 3PM (T-6th in SEC, 42.5% 3P)

G Allen Flanigan 6-6, 215 lbs

  • 15.7 PPG (9th in SEC)
  • 6.7 RPG
  • 1.7 SPG (8th in SEC)

Kentucky Basketball vs. Ole Miss Rebels

Also published on A Sea of Blue.

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Men's Basketball

Tre Mitchell’s Stepfather Gives Injury Update, “Ridiculously Painful”

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Kentucky Wildcats forward Tre Mitchell injury is still "ridiculously painful"
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Tre Mitchell missed his third-straight game on Saturday, suffering a shoulder injury during the Ole Miss game, while also still trying to recover from a lingering back issue that kept him out two games prior.

His stepfather, Tony Bergeron, was on WPBK-FM on Friday, before Kentucky’s game against Alabama, where he gave an update on Mitchell. “I thought he came back a little too early (against Ole Miss), got hit, and sprained that shoulder like it was a football injury. The problem now is that it is ridiculously painful,” Bergeron said.

On a positive note, this may help Mitchell reach 100 percent. “He needs to just wait until his back is 100 percent,” Bergeron said. It’s clear that Mitchell hadn’t been himself while playing through the back pain, shooting just 35 percent (8-23) over the three games prior to his first DNP.

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With compounded injuries, it is best to just rest and recover fully until making a return. Kentucky will need Mitchell at his best for a post-season run.

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Men's Basketball

Kentucky vs. Mississippi State, Round 2: TV/Streaming Info, Keys to the Game, and Predictions

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After a dominant win over Alabama, the Kentucky Wildcats will take on Mississippi State on the road.
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

What a win on Saturday for the Kentucky Wildcats, who put up one of the best offensive performances in college basketball this season on Saturday in a 117-95 win over Alabama. Now they will go back on the road to take on a Mississippi State team in a quad-one opportunity.

With Kentucky coming out on top in the first matchup, back in January, Mississippi State will look to even the season series and defend their home court on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are playing some of their best basketball of the season, riding a five-game winning streak, including a twenty-point road victory over LSU, whom Kentucky just lost to.

Let’s look at the matchup.

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Interior Defense

Tolu Smith is arguably the best big man in the SEC. In the first matchup between these two teams, he certainly made his presence felt despite the loss, scoring a season-high 26 points on better than 70 percent shooting.

This time around will be a good test to see how an improved Kentucky defense handles a physical interior player. While improving and reportedly back at practice, Tre Mitchell is unlikely to play on Tuesday, so it will be up to the seven-footers.

Ugonna Onyenso is Kentucky’s most physical big, but Zvonimir Ivisic who just scored a season-high 18 points, gives Kentucky a higher offensive ceiling.

Rebounding Battle

Similar to the stereotypical SEC team, Mississippi State is a physical team that does well on the boards, ranking toward the top of the country in total rebounds, offensive rebounds, and rebound margin. In the first matchup, Kentucky outrebounded the Bulldogs 30-29, that effort will need to be there again Tuesday.

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Josh Hubbard

Mississippi State’s equivalent to Rob Dillingham is Josh Hubbard. The sub-six-foot electric guard is a similar microwave-type player who just won his fifth SEC Freshman of the Week honor this season after scoring 32 points against LSU.

Scoring just three points on 1-11 shooting against Kentucky back in January, Hubbard is motivated to have a better performance. The priority in defending Hubbard is chasing him off the three-point line or pushing him back as more than 64 percent of his shots have been taken from deep. Similar to what Kentucky did to Alabama, make him finish at the rim.

Opposing Players to Watch

F Tolu Smith 6-11, 245 lbs

  • 16.8 PPG (9th in SEC)
  • 8.1 RPG (3rd in SEC)
  • 59.7% FG (1st in SEC)

G Josh Hubbard 5-10, 185 lbs

  • 15.3 PPG (10th in SEC)
  • 76 3PM (1st in SEC)
  • 7.9 3PA per game

G Dashawn Davis 6-1, 190 lbs

  • 6.2 PPG
  • 3.0 APG (17th in SEC)

Kentucky Basketball vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • Time: 7 PM ET on February 27th
  • TV Channel: ESPN
  • Announcers: To be announced.
  • Location: Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi.
  • Online Stream: WatchESPN and ESPN app
  • Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
  • Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
  • Rosters: UK | MISS ST
  • Stats to Know: UK | MISS ST
  • KenPom: UK | MISS ST
  • Team Sheets: UK | MISS ST
  • Odds: DraftKings has yet to release the odds for the game, but check back on Monday evening. Despite a convincing win over Alabama, the projections are not in Kentucky’s favor. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Cats just a 40.9% chance at victory, with Bart Torvik right in line at 41%. EvanMiya and KenPom give Kentucky a slightly higher chance at the win, at 46% and 45% respectively.
  • Predictions: The projections have the game coming down to the wire. Bart Torvik and KenPom have Mississippi State winning by two points, 80-78 and 79-77. Haslametrics and EvanMiya have the Cats winning by just one point, 77-76.

Also published on A Sea of Blue.

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Men's Basketball

Recap and Takeaways From Kentucky’s Dominating Win Over Alabama

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The Kentucky Wildcats dominated Alabama in a 117-95 win.
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Rupp Arena was rocking on Saturday when Kentucky faced no. 13 Alabama, and the Wildcats matched that same energy in a fun one. The Cats absolutely demolished the Crimson Tide by a score of 117-95, one of the best offensive performances ever.

Justin Edwards had his breakout game, finishing with 28 points on a perfect 10-10 shooting, and 4-4 from deep. Antonio Reeves added 24 points, Zvonimir Ivisic had 18, and Rob Dillingham poured in 16 to lead Kentucky in scoring to go along with an impressive 63% from the field and 54% from three-point range.

Let’s take a look at how the domination happened.

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Justin Edwards Has His Breakout Game

Saturday’s game against Alabama will be known as the Justin Edwards Game. After having a rough season so far going through many mental battles, Edwards finally had his breakout game, and BBN and his teammates were so happy for him. Finishing with a career-high and team-high 28 points, he added 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

Edwards went a perfect 10-10 from the field, and shot 4-4 from deep. That makes Edwards only one of three players in UK history with at least 10 field goal attempts with no miss.

Kentucky Shows Historic Offensive Performance

The offensive performance on Saturday was one for the ages. Kentucky’s 117 points were the most scored against an AP Top 25 opponent in UK history. Shooting 63% from the field, it was one of the more impressive performances, while also shooting 54% from three-point range.

Kentucky had 5 players in double figures. The assist-to-turnover ratio was top notch, with a 24:10 ratio. It was a performance that will be remembered for a long time

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Three-Point Defense Improves

Kentucky’s defense as a whole wasn’t the best, with allowing 95 points, but the Cats forced 16 turnovers and had 29 points off of them, while also having 7 blocks and 11 steals. The three-point defense was really impressive. Holding a team that attempts nearly 30 three-point attempts per game to just 17 attempts, it was certainly running Alabama off the three-point line. Alabama only made 6 threes on those 17 attempts, shooting 35%.

Making Alabama score in other ways besides three-pointers seemed to be an emphasis for Kentucky. They definitely succeeded at that on Saturday.

Kentucky had their best offensive performance of the season, and one that was against a top-15 opponent, and much needed in the final stretch of the season. Next, Kentucky will head to Mississippi State on Tuesday. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

Check out the box score and highlight’s from Saturday’s win.

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Box Score

Highlights

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