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Kentucky basketball: Three things from a tight win over Mississippi State

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe, right, fights for a loose ball with Mississippi State guard Craig Sword in the second half. The University of Kentucky hosted Mississippi State, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe, right, fights for a loose ball with Mississippi State guard Craig Sword in the second half. The University of Kentucky hosted Mississippi State, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Lexington Herald-Leader

Three quick things from UK’s 80-74 win over Mississippi State:

1. Mississippi State shot 52.9 percent from the field

That’s the highest field goal percentage by a UK opponent since Wichita State shot 55.1 percent against the Cats in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. That was 60 games ago.

The previous high by an opponent this season was 52.8 percent by UCLA in the Bruins’ 87-77 win over visiting Kentucky back on Dec. 3. The high by an opponent last season was Ole Miss’ 49.2 percent against UK at Rupp on Jan. 6. That was the closest any team got to shooting 50 percent against Kentucky last season.

UK-Mississippi State final box

By the way, Mississippi State shot 59.4 percent in the first half Tuesday but still trailed 39-31 at the break.

2. Kentucky made its last 12 free throws

The Cats did go 12-for-12 from the free throw line over the final 6:05 to pull out the six-point win. After Mississippi State cut the lead to 65-57, UK did not miss a free throw the rest of the way.

Tyler Ulis was four-for-four. Derek Willis was two-for-two. Jamal Murray was two-for-two. Alex Poythress was four-for-four.

On the night, Kentucky made 15 of 20 free throws for 75 percent. Mississippi State hit 14 of 16 for 87.5 percent.

3. Isaiah Briscoe had a terrific all-around game

The freshman guard scored 14 points, dished five assists, grabbed four rebounds and committed just one turnover.

“Well, we put him behind the zone because we couldn’t get anybody with size back there that had any confidence to score a ball. So then we put him under the basket,” John Calipari said. “That’s what the adjustment was. You dude’s are afraid? We’ll go to him, and he got behind the basket and he scored.”

Kentucky men’s basketball next five games

  • Jan. 16 @Auburn (4 p.m./ESPN)
  • Jan. 21 @Arkansas (7 p.m./ESPN)
  • Jan. 23 Vanderbilt (4 p.m./ESPN)
  • Jan. 27 Missouri (9 p.m./ESPN)
  • Jan. 30 @Kansas (7 p.m./SEC)
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