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Men's Basketball

Kentucky vs. Mississippi State: TV/Streaming Info and Keys to the Game



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After back-to-back losses, the Kentucky Wildcats are back to where they found themselves just over a month ago, outside of the tournament bubble. However, in their remaining six games, they have four quad-one opportunities – and potentially five if Auburn can move back into the top 30 of the NET rankings.

The first of those opportunities comes on Wednesday as Kentucky travels to Starkville to take on a tough Mississippi State team. Led by new head coach, Chris Jans – who previously coached New Mexico State to four conference titles in five seasons – the Bulldogs are winners of five in a row, beating Arkansas, Missouri, and a ranked TCU team.

According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, both teams are on the bubble, so expect a tough-fought game. With that said, history is in favor of Kentucky as they have lost to Mississippi State just one time in the John Calipari era in seventeen matchups. The lone loss came in the SEC tournament of a COVID shortened 2020-21 season, 74-73.


The Wildcats could be shorthanded for the third game in a row, as CJ Fredrick or Savhir Wheeler have yet to practice this week. Yet, the selection committee does not make exceptions for injury and the Wildcats need to win, with or without them.

On his weekly call-in show, John Calipari mentioned that the team came together on Sunday to take responsibility for how they have been playing and to recommit to each other as they enter the final stretch of the season. It’s up to this team to write their story.

Let’s look at the keys to Wednesday’s matchup.

Keep Them Out of Transition and the Paint

Mississippi State has one of the best defenses in the country. In fact, they are ranked 4th in the KenPom defensive efficiency ratings. However, as strong as they are on the defensive end, they are nearly as poor on the offensive end. Ranked 175th in offensive efficiency, they are the second-worst offensive team in the SEC, behind South Carolina.


Expect a low-scoring game, as the Bulldogs have not scored more than 70 points in conference play, which coincidentally came against Arkansas this past weekend. To get their points, they rely on transition offense and points in the paint.

To defend this, the Wildcats will need to spring back on defense and be physical in the paint. Two things, that they have not been consistent at doing this season.

Crash the Defensive Glass

One of Mississippi State’s biggest strengths is their offensive rebounding. Averaging 11.8 per game, the Bulldogs are statistically better than Kentucky by 0.2 rebounds.

The rebounding battle will be headlined between Oscar Tshiebwe and Mississippi State’s Tolu Smith. Just as Tshiebwe is Kentucky’s leading scorer and rebounder, Smith is the same for Mississippi State. Given that Tshiebwe has struggled to lesser players recently, a big effort will be needed to neutralize Smith.


Yet, Smith isn’t the only Bulldog that can rebound, as they have size and strength in their frontcourt. Their rotation consists of six guys that are at least 6-foot-7 and 22 pounds. For that reason, each Wildcat will need to do their part, matching the physicality and box out.

Make Smart Decisions

As Arkansas’s Eric Musselman said of Mississippi State earlier this season, they are “a high-steal, high-gamble team.” Averaging 9.4 steals per game, the Bulldogs steal the ball at the sixth-highest rate in the country.

Without Sahvir Wheeler in the last two games, errant passes have occurred too often, hurting themselves. This will have to change on Wednesday, as the Mississippi State defense will try to use steals to get themselves scoring opportunities in transition, to counter their poor offense.

If Kentucky can take care of the ball, it will force the Bulldogs to make plays within their half-court offense, which they have struggled to do.


Kentucky Wildcats (16-9) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (17-8)

Time/Date: 8:30 pm ET on Wednesday, February 15th, 2023
Location: Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi.
TV Channel: SEC Network
Online Stream: WatchESPNESPN+, SEC Network+ or ESPN app
Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio network call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
Rosters: UK | MSU
Team SheetsUK | MSU
Stats To Know: UK | MSU

Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has yet to release the odds for the game, but expect Kentucky to be an underdog. Given their recent loss, ESPN’s matchup predictor has lost confidence in the Cats, giving them just a 40% chance to win. Bart Torvik’s computer model continues to be low on the Wildcats and gives them a slimmer chance at 32%.

PredictionsBart Torvik picks the Wildcats to lose in a close defensive battle, 65-61.

Also published on A Sea of Blue.


BB Recruiting

Kentucky Named a “Loser” of the Transfer Portal This Offseason, Frustration Grows



© Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

One NCAA Tournament win over the last three seasons is far from acceptable by Kentucky basketball standards. For that reason, tension and expectations are high going into what many believe is a make-or-break season for John Calipari.

While the Wildcats do have the No. 1 recruiting class coming in – which includes five freshmen – they have only returned only two players that played at least five minutes per game last season – Adou Thiero and Ugonna Onyenso – and have lost at least four to the NBA Draft or to the portal.

As the roster stands, only eight scholarships of the thirteen the NCAA allows are taken. With the draft withdrawal deadline on May 31st, that number could change as Chris Livingston, Oscar Tshiebwe, and/or Antonio must make their final decisions. However, it is highly unlikely they all decide to return.


With that said, the staff has made their bed. They didn’t express a lot of interest in the transfer portal, but lost out on the two prospects they did want, Hunter Dickinson and Keshad Johnson. Now this late in the portal, there aren’t currently many options that can replace the production or level of player that Kentucky has lost and are expected to lose.

For these reasons, 247Sports’ Travis Branham named Kentucky one of the biggest losers of the transfer portal.

“They do have the No. 1 recruiting class in 2023 incoming but this is a team that has been at the mercy of Oscar Tshiebwe and Antonio Reeves. There is so much riding on these two and they have not landed a single transfer as of yet. Even if one of those guys opts to go to the draft and not return, that’s an extremely big hit to the Kentucky program, especially this late into the portal,” Branham said.

“There’s not many more that we’re anticipating to go in there. Will still be a couple, but not many that can move the needle and they will be in line trying to advocate to get these kids on campus. As of today, there’s only seven scholarship players for the 2023-24 season for Kentucky and that can really be a big, big miss if Antonio Reeves and Oscar Tshiebwe opt to stay in the draft.”


Kentucky is recruiting all three players to stay, but realistically hoping for the return of Reeves and Tshiebwe. John Calipari is planning to visit Tshiebwe this weekend in Charlotte to gauge where he stands in his final decision.

At the start of the offseason, Reeves and Tshiebwe would have been two of Kentucky’s best options regardless of who was in the portal, therefore if Calipari is able to retain them, the outlook will become much more optimistic. While Livingston could have an All-SEC caliber ceiling as a sophomore, Calipari could find a capable wing player (i.e. David Jones) to fill that role.

Either way, the roster picture will become much clearer in just a matter of days, but depending on what those decisions are the panic meter will certainly rise for the Wildcats.

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Men's Basketball

Is Oscar Tshiebwe Trending Towards a Return? It’s a “Toss-Up”, Per Report



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May 31st is the most important upcoming date for the Kentucky basketball team, as that is the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline. The final stay/go decisions from Chris Livingston, Antonio Reeves, and Oscar Tshiebwe will be made, but as it stands, not one of those decisions is clear. Of them, Tshiebwe’s decision may be the most dynamic.

Going into last season, most assumed that it would be Oscar Tshiebwe’s last season at Kentucky, and as the offseason began, that expectation continued. However, the effect of NIL on his decision was initially underestimated.

Last season, Tshiebwe made an estimated $2 million in NIL, which far surpasses the valuation of a late second-round NBA Draft pick, which is near the minimum salary of just over $1 million. With a return, there is optimism that he would make a similar amount.


On the other hand, Tshiebwe is 23 years old and his professional prospects would not improve with a return. Instead, he would almost certainly be taking a reduced role – which he is okay with – as is expected with the talented freshman class coming in. To add, Tshiebwe helped his stock with his NBA Draft Combine performance last week.

With that said, Tshiebwe’s decision looks to be a “toss-up” and it is according to a live stream featuring Jack Pilgrim of Kentucky Sports Radio. Those hoping for a return include John Calipari, who has been recruiting him to come back for another season, and this weekend Calipari is expected to visit Tshiebwe in Charlotte.

This time next week, there will be a much clearer picture of what Kentucky’s roster will look like and what roles will need to be filled.

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BB Recruiting

Amidst Fan Frustration, Kentucky Contacts Top Transfer David Jones



© Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has had several players leave this offseason, with more expected to depart as they make their final decisions by the May 31st NBA Draft withdrawal deadline. However, they have yet to add anyone to the roster. With only eight scholarships taken, of the thirteen the NCAA allows, there are spots to be filled.

This has been greeted by plenty of fan frustration. With Kentucky’s freshmen anticipated to arrive on campus at the beginning of June, and the Wildcats set to play in GLBL Jam in Canada in mid-July, things must pick up soon.

With that said, on Wednesday, Kentucky reached out to St. John’s transfer David Jones, who is one of the better wing options remaining in the transfer portal. Other schools that have reached out include Arkansas (obviously), Memphis, UConn, and Xavier.


Despite being the second leading scorer for the Red Storm (13.2 ppg), Jones entered the portal following the news that Rick Pitino would be taking the head coaching job. Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that Jones has entered the portal or that Kentucky has expressed interest in Jones.

Prior to his time at St. John’s, Kentucky recruited Jones out of high school as a four-star recruit, even bringing him in for an unofficial visit to Lexington back in February 2020. However, Jones ultimately committed to Depaul, where he played for two seasons and averaged 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds his last season there.

Then last April, Jones entered the portal for the first time and Kentucky again expressed early interest before deciding it wasn’t a fit given the significant roles that Oscar Tshiebwe, Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins, and Chris Livingston were going to have.

As Kentucky reaches out this time, they do so with roles to be filled on the roster, and the Wildcats could certainly use a 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing with a career average of 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds.


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