OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi expected Jodie Meeks to be Jodie Meeks Tuesday night.
"The whole team was saying, Jodie Meeks is going to get about 40 (points)," point guard Terrico White said. "Coach (Andy Kennedy) was stressing, don't let Jodie Meeks get off for 40 or 50."
With that frightening thought in mind, the Rebels played with unusual zeal and beat Kentucky 85-80.
White and sophomore power forward Malcolm White, who are not related, did damage outside (Terrico) and inside (Malcolm).
And with Zach Graham, a high school rival of Meeks, holding Kentucky's and the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer in check, UK seemed doomed. Meeks, who was averaging 31 points in SEC games, did not make a basket in the first 28 minutes. He finished with 21 points, which included two meaningless three-pointers in the final 11 seconds.
"They did a good job defending me," said Meeks, echoing UK's give-Ole Miss-credit mantra. "They did a good job finding me in transition. They did a good job finding me in the half-court set. They never lost sight of me."
Graham, who is from Suwanee, Ga., and once played with Meeks on an AAU team, acknowledged his surprise at the UK star making only four of 15 shots.
"That was great," Graham said. "That helped us a lot because Jodie's been torching the SEC."
Kentucky, newly minted as the No. 24 team in the country, fell to 5-1 in the SEC and 16-5 overall. Patrick Patterson led the Cats with 24 points.
"We were playing too much outside-in," Coach Billy Gillispie said. "We shot 28 three-pointers. That's not our game. I don't know that we've shot 28 three-pointers since I've been here. (The Cats haven't.) I don't care to revisit that again."
Ole Miss, which had lost four of five SEC games, improved to 11-9 overall and 2-4 in the league. The Rebels also improved to 41-5 at home in Kennedy's three seasons as coach.
Terrico White, who played despite a bone bruise sustained last weekend at South Carolina, scored 21 points to share the team high. David Huertas, who scored 19 points in the second half, also had 21. Malcolm White, who came into the game averaging 6.8 points in SEC play, added 20.
Kentucky led 39-37 at halftime despite Meeks not making a field goal.
Facing a variety of defenses, including a big taste of a box-and-one for the first time, Meeks missed all six of his shots (including four from three-point range). His six first-half points came at the free-throw line."They were always all over him," Patterson said. "Face-guarding him. Not letting him touch the ball."
UK tried to get Meeks going. The Cats set up a three-point shot off an inbounds pass. He missed. He curled off screens for perimeter shots. He missed. He drove hard to the basket, but could only get to the foul line.
Ole Miss led much of the half. The Whites each scored in double digits to lead the way.
The second of Terrico White's two three-pointers put the Rebels' lead at its first-half zenith, 26-18, with 8:14 left.
"I don't know we ever got a defensive rebound in the first minutes of the game," Gillispie said. "It goes back to, they were tougher than us."
The Rebels hit 43.1 percent from the field, the most by an SEC team against Kentucky so far this year.
Ole Miss took the initiative at the start of the second half. Huertas hit a three-pointer over Meeks 10 seconds into the half.
"We didn't guard him well," Gillispie said. "He hit the shot and got his confidence.
"We didn't put enough ball pressure on the ballhandler to help (Huertas' defender)."
When Huertas drove pretty-as-you-please to a layup that put Ole Miss ahead 47-41, Kentucky called time with 16:51 left.
Graham's three-pointer from the left corner (set up by a Huertas drive and pass) put the Rebels ahead 53-43 with 15:17 left.
Meeks hit his first basket with 11:46 left. He cut from the right wing to the left baseline, took a pass and hit a jumper.
As if a switch had been flipped, Meeks hit a three-pointer on UK's next possession. Those two baskets in a 28-second span reduced UK's deficit to 58-55.
Ole Miss turned off the switch with a box-and-one. UK scored one basket in the next three and a half minutes.
In that span, Ole Miss extended its lead to 66-57 when play stopped for the next-to-last television timeout. Questionable shot selection stifled a Kentucky comeback.
Darius Miller, who did hit a career-high two first-half treys, came into the game as a 19.2 percent shooter from beyond the arc. He threw up an air ball from three-point range with the Cats trailing 68-61.
On the next possession, Perry Stevenson (who has three three-pointers in his career) missed from beyond the arc.
That helped Ole Miss take a 70-61 lead into the final TV timeout (3:56 to go).
"Give Ole Miss the credit," Gillispie said. "They whipped us. They competed as hard as I've ever seen them compete in a long time."