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Game Preview: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Coming off an offensive masterclass on Saturday against Alabama, Kentucky hits the road once again as they travel down to Starkville for the second meeting with the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. The 'Cats move up one spot in the AP Poll this week after going 1-1 in 2 games. A chance at another quad-one win awaits in Mississippi.

Kentucky won the first meeting at Rupp Arena on January 17th over the Bulldogs by a final score of 90-77. After that game, Mississippi State lost 3 of 5 and were sitting on the wrong side of the bubble. Since then, they have won five in a row with three of those wins being by 20+ points. Chris Jans has his team in a great spot sitting at 19-8 (8-6 in the SEC), and a win over 16th ranked Kentucky would be just the victory they need to propel them off the bubble and into the field of 68. The Bulldogs already have wins over Auburn and Tennessee at home, so they look to complete the trifecta with a win over the Wildcats.

Mississippi State has been very average offensively and defensively this year. They average just 75 points per game and give up about 68 points per game as well. Standout freshman Josh Hubbard averages 15 points and is shooting 36% from three this year. In their last game against LSU, Hubbard scored 32 points with six made three-pointers. Kentucky will need to contain Hubbard if they want to slow down Mississippi State's offense. Outside of Hubbard, senior forward Tolu Smith has been as reliable as ever. He is averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. In the last game against Kentucky, he had 26 points and 8 rebounds and truly dominated physically inside the paint. The 'Cats will need to be just as if not more physical than Smith, and fight on the boards. Mississippi State is a veteran team that fights to the whistle. As a team, Mississippi State is 11th in the conference in three-point percentage at 32% and they do not shoot a lot of them either. Containing Tolu Smith and not giving up open threes will help limit the Bulldogs' offense.

If Kentucky can score a high volume of points like they usually do, this shouldn't be a within reach kind of ball game. The main key needs to be to play physically and play to the whistle. They are an experienced and tough team and have been red-hot recently. Rebounding and defense are key for Kentucky near the rim and all three seven-footers need to help limit Tolu Smith as he was the one who killed us in the last meeting.

After a disappointing mid-week loss last week on the road, we need to get one back and this game in Starkville is the perfect time to do it. It is a sold-out crowd as always. The game will be at 7:00 PM on ESPN.


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