UK had every reason to mail in this game. Matching the energy and effort from an overtime win in front of a raucous crowd and a national audience isn’t easy. Neither is staying focused on your opponent when they’re the worst in your conference and have the lowest RPI of any school in a BCS conference.
All that makes the way UK handled Mississippi State all the more reassuring to Big Blue Nation. The Cats jumped out early as Alex Poythress scored 7 of UK’s first 11 points en route to 16 with 8 rebounds and Ryan Harrow lead all scorers with 19 points along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists in 30 turnover-free minutes. Willie Cauley Stein (12) and Julius Mays and Archie Goodwin (11 each) joined them in double figures. UK shot 55% from the field, including 9-22 (41%) from on threes and outrebounded Miss St by 12. After leading 42-19 at halftime, UK coasted to the 85-55 victory to improve to 20-8, 11-4 in the conference. Mississippi St was lead by guard Fred Thomas with 13 points as they hit only 32% from the field and fell to 7-20, 2-13 SEC.
Afterwards, John Calipari was generous in his praise for the team, saying “They’re feeling good about themselves, and they should. I’m proud of them.” However, he knows as well as anyone that Mississippi State doesn’t offer much in the way of an accurate measurement of where the team is following the win vs. Missouri. He should get a better indication Saturday as the Cats travel to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks as they try to play their way into the tournament conversation. Arkansas, whose only home loss this year came to Syracuse in November, lost on the road to LSU last night. That means there will be an even bigger emphasis on their only scheduled meeting with the Cats this season.
Photo: Flickr/Triple Tri
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