Here’s why it would be important for Kentucky to win the SEC title
Locked in a three-way battle for first place in the SEC, this is no time for a letdown as Kentucky visits struggling Missouri on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. on ESPN. At 10-2 in conference play, the Cats are one game behind Tennessee and LSU.
Officials tonight are Michael Stephens, Don Daily and Pat Adams. . . . Kentucky is coming off an 86-69 win over then No. 1-ranked Tennesee last Saturday at Rupp Arena. Missouri lost at Ole Miss 75-65 last Saturday. . . . Because of a snow storm in Columbia, the Tigers could not leave Columbia until Saturday morning and did not arrive in Oxford until 90 minutes before the game with the Rebels. . . . Three inches of snow, plus ice, is predicted for the Columbia area during tonight’s game. . . . UK and Missouri split their two meetings last year. Missouri won in Columbia and UK won in Lexington.
Kentucky starters are Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis and PJ Washington. Missouri’s starters are Xavier Pinson, Javon Pickett, Jordan Geist, Jeremiah Tilmon and Kevin Puryear.
Kentucky 10, Missouri 5 (15:53) - PJ Washington leads the way with four points. PJ hit a three for the Cats’ first basket. Tyler Herro also hit a three. And Reid Travis converted an old-fashioned three-point play. UK has made three of six shots. Missouri is two-of-five from the floor. There are a lot of empty seats here at Mizzou Arena. And there is also quite a bit of blue in the seats that are taken.
Kentucky 12, Missouri 11 (11:58) - Not the prettiest of basketball so far. Cats went six empty trips before Reid Travis, from the high post, hit Washington for an easy bucket underneath. Before that, Missouri had taken an 11-10 lead on a floater in the lane from Mitchell Smith. Kentucky has made four of 11 shots. Mizzou is four-of-eight from the floor. Missouri has already committed five turnovers. Cuonzo Martin’s club committed 25 turnovers in the loss at Ole Miss last Saturday.
Kentucky 22, Missouri 15 (7:49) - This is going to be a grind-it-out game. That’s the style Martin loves. Cats did go on a 9-0 run to turn an 11-10 deficit into a 19-11 lead. Tyler Herro scored seven straight points. He now has 10 points on the night. UK is 7-of-16 from the floor. Missouri is 5-of-14.
Kentucky 32, Missouri 19 (3:27) - Cats beginning to put a little distance between themselves and the struggling Tigers. PJ Washington with 11 points, Herro with 10 to lead the way for UK. Cats are 11-of-23 from the floor for 47.8 percent. Missouri is just 6-of-21 for 28.6 percent. UK has a 16-13 advantage on the boards. Washington has five rebounds.
Halftime: Kentucky 41, Missouri 23 - Good first half for Nick Richards, who had seven points and four rebounds in seven minutes. On UK’s final possession of the half, Immanuel Quickley hit Richards with a perfect lob for a jam. Richards was also fouled on the play. He made the free throw to give the Cats an 18-point halftime lead. Washington led the visitors with 15 points. Herro scored 10 points. Kentucky shot 50 percent from the floor the first half. Missouri shot just 30.8.
Kentucky 48, Missouri 31 (15:00) - Ashton Hagans just hit back-to-back threes for the Cats, who extended the lead to 20 points over Mizzou at the 15:58 mark. Hagans came into the game having made just five of 27 three-point attempts. Missouri guard Jordan Geist is now in double figures with 11 points.
Kentucky 54, Missouri 39 (10:24) - Getting a little chippy now. Lots of bodies hitting the floor. Hagans poked Missouri’s Geist in the eye going for a steal. UK is 4-of-10 from the floor this half. Mizzou is 6-of-14. Not a lot of people left here at Mizzou Arena, to be honest.
Kentucky 54, Missouri 41 (7:59) - UK’s Reid Travis went to the locker room after apparently twisting his knee. Looked like Keldon Johnson fell into the graduate senior on a rebound. UK reports that Travis has a sprained right knee and will not return.
Kentucky 58, Missouri 47 (3:14) - This has been a slog of a second half. UK is 5-of-11 from the floor this half. Missouri is 10-of-23. For the game, Mizzou has a 28-27 edge on the boards.
Final: Kentucky 66, Missouri 58 - UK holds on to go 11-2 in the SEC. Cats play host to Auburn on Saturday.