Sidelines with John Clay

Liveblog: Kentucky 71, Mississippi State 67

Kentucky will be looking to extend its win streak to double digits when the No. 5-ranked Wildcats take on Mississippi State on Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. ET. CBS has the television coverage.

We will be courtside providing live scores, updates and analysis. Follow us on Twitter at @johnclayiv, @jerrytipton, @benrobertshl, @markcstory, @alexslitzphoto and @kentuckysports. Scroll down for dedicated Twitter list.


Officials for UK-Mississippi State are Don Daily, Chuck Jones and Owen Shortt. . . . Kentucky won the first meeting between these two teams 76-55 at Rupp Arena on Jan. 29. PJ Washington scored 21 points for UK in the win. Tyler Herro added 18. Reid Travis grabbed 12 rebounds. UK held the Bulldogs to 31.1 shooting from the floor. . . . Kentucky has won nine straight games. The Cats are 19-3 overall and 8-1 in the SEC. Mississippi State is 16-6 overall and 4-5 in the SEC. The Bulldogs are 3-3 in their last six games. They lost 92-88 in overtime to visiting LSU on Wednesday night. . . . Carter Blackburn and Bill Raftery are calling the game for CBS. . . . UK is 18th overall in the latest kenpom ratings. The Cats are 18th in offensive efficiency and 8th in defensive efficiency. Mississippi State is 25th in the overall ratings. Ben Howland’s team is 20th on offense and 64th on defense.

NCAA Selection Committee announced its early rankings on Saturday. Kentucky was the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, behind No. 1 seed Virginia. Duke is No. 1 in the East, with Michigan as the No. 2. Tennessee was No. 1 in the South, with North Carolina as the No. 2 seed. Gonzaga was No. 1 seed in the West, with Michigan State as the No. 2 seed. By the way, the Midwest Region finals are in Kansas City.

NCAA release concerning early rankings

Starters: Kentucky starting Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis and PJ Washington. Mississippi State starting Nick Weatherspoon, Reggie Perry, Lamar Peters, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Abdul Ado.

First half

Kentucky 8, Miss State 8 (15:35) - PJ Washington has all eight of UK’s points. The sophomore forward has hit a pair of three-pointers, both from the top of the key. Washington scored 21 points against MSU in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 22 at Rupp Arena. State is scoring off drives to the bucket. The Bulldogs have not attempted a three-point shot.

Kentucky 13, Miss State 13 (11:43) - UK is 5-of-12 from the floor. State is 6-of-11. Kentucky has a 7-5 lead on the glass. After eight quick points, Washington did not score in that segment. State is 0-for-1 from three-point range. Cats are two-of-six.

Kentucky 33, Miss State 21 (3:32) - MSU coach Ben Howland has called second timeout as Cats have stretched the lead to a dozen. UK has made 14 of 26 shots from the field for 53.8 percent. State is 9-of-20 for 45 percent. The visitors have a 15-8 edge on the boards.

Halftime: Kentucky 40, Miss State 25 - Once again, Kentucky’s defense was outstanding the first half. State shot 47.8 percent, the Bulldogs had to work for every basket. Plus, the Cats had a 17-10 edge on the boards. UK also held State’s top scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon without a point in the first half. Quinndary is averaging 18 a game. He’s scored 27 points in two of MSU’s last three games.

In its last 3 SEC games, Kentucky has outscored opponents 124-68.

First half box

Second half

Kentucky 49, Miss State 34 (15:21) - State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon is finally engaged. He’s hit a pair of three-pointers for his first points of the game. But the Cats still hold a 15-point advantage at the first TV time of the second half. The State fans are not happy with the officials. PJ Washington leads the Cats with 16 points.

Kentucky 51, Miss State 43 (11:35) - State making a run and the crowd here at Humphrey Coliseum is back into the game. Quinndary Weatherspoon now with nine points. Turnovers have hurt the Cats. UK has nine. State has six turnovers.

Kentucky 51, Miss State 48 (9:18) - Where did that 18-point lead go? State has cut the UK advantage all the way down to three points and Calipari calls time at 9:18 mark. Kentucky is just 4-of-14 from the floor this half. The visitors have scored two points since the 16:31 mark. State is on a 17-2 run.

Kentucky 55, Miss State 50 (7:25) - Bulldogs cut the lead to one point at 51-50 before UK got baskets from Washington and Hagans to push the lead back out to five points. PJ leads Kentucky scoring with 19 points. Q Weatherspoon leads home team with 11 points.

Kentucky 65, Miss State 61 (3:28) - PJ Washington 21 points for the Cats. He has four fouls. So does Reid Travis. State is hanging in there, however. Peters just hit a three, then Howland called time. Peters leads the Bulldogs with 13 points.

Final: Kentucky 71, Miss State 67 - Cats win 10th straight. PJ Washington leads way with 23 points. Tyler Herro hit a huge shot down the stretch. Kentucky now 9-1 in SEC play. Bulldogs drop to 4-6.

Final box

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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