Feb 21, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Jalen Steele (0) drives while guarded by Kentucky Wildcats guard Marquis Teague (25) during the second half at the Humphrey Coliseum. Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 73-64. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
For 35:54 seconds, it would have been easy to think that the No. 1 team in the country wore grey Tuesday night in the Humphrey Coliseum, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's basket with 4:06 to play put Kentucky ahead for good on their way to a 73-64 Wildcat victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Here's a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the contest.
The Good: Dee Bost played what may have been the best game of his career in Starkville. The senior finished the game with 21 points, seven assists, and four steals against three turnovers. Arnett Moultrie also picked up another double double in the contest, scoring 13 points and grabbing eleven boards. Jalen Steele also deserves credit for scoring 13 points and filling in for an injured Rodney Hood in the second half.
The Bad: Renardo Sidney picked the wrong night to have one of his quietest games of the year. He scored the first points of the game on a three pointer, but that turned out to be the only points he scored in the contest. While he showed better defensive effort in the contest, the Bulldogs could have used a few more points from him.
The Bulldogs also ran out of gas in this game. The depth of the Bulldogs has been a concern all year, and against Kentucky, injury and foul trouble kept Mississippi State from sealing the deal on an upset.
The Ugly: Losing Rodney Hood for the second half may have been the dagger to the Bulldogs' chances of winning the contest. Hood had played quality minutes in the contest, and his injury shortened an already short bench for the Bulldogs.
In the second half, the Bulldogs seemed unable to seize momentum in the contest, and they let Kentucky linger around long enough to come back and win. The first two possessions after halftime were a microcosm of the second half. Bost came up with a steal on Kentucky's opening possession, but instead of getting the momentum rolling to start the second half, he tried an ill-advised lob that was snagged by Anthony Davis and converted into a three-pointer by Doron Lamb.
Several such moments occurred during the half.
Where do the Bulldogs go from here? Right now, most experts still project the Bulldogs as a tournament team, but they have no margin for error. Mississippi State faces a tough road test Saturday against Alabama. With an RPI of 60, the Bulldogs need road wins to climb in the ratings. Splitting the Alabama and South Carolina contests is a minimum of what must happen. Mississippi State must also defend home court against Arkansas. Anything less than 21 wins and a victory in the SEC tournament will make Selection Sunday an awfully long day in Starkville.