The Mississippi State Bulldogs (10-3) and Kentucky Wildcats (10-3) meet as SEC-opening opponents for the first time since 2002. Eleven years ago, the Bulldogs knocked off Kentucky 74-69 in overtime to pick up an SEC-opening win.
In all, this will be the fifth time the teams have opened SEC play against each other, and the teams have split the previous four contests 2-2. In the last ten meetings between the two teams, Kentucky leads 7-3.
For the Bulldogs, Kentucky will be their first ranked foe of the season, and for Rick Ray, this will provide an opportunity for his first win over a ranked opponent after the Bulldogs went 0-4 in such contests last year.
Where to Watch: Mississippi State vs. No. 14 Kentucky, 7pm (CT)
(Radio) Listen to the game on Sirius/XM 108/199
Last Meeting: L, 85-55 in Lexington on February 27, 2013
In their last contest against the Kentucky Wildcats, the Mississippi State Bulldogs trailed 42-19 at the half, and by the end of the game, Kentucky pushed the margin to 30 points on their way to victory.
Fred Thomas led all Bulldogs with 13 points and Jalen Steel and Colin Borchert each contributed ten points. Craig Sword put eight points on the stat sheet as did Gavin Ware. Trivante Bloodman scored four points, and Tyson Cunningham made a basket to round out the Mississippi State scoring.
For the Wildcats, five players reached double figures: Ryan Harrow (19), Alex Poythress (16), Willie Cauley-Stein (12), Archie Goodwin (11), and Julius Mays (11). Jarrod Polson added nine points of his own in the winning effort.
Kentucky also dominated the battle on the glass, outrebounding the Bulldogs 42-29. Ware and Thomas pulled down six rebounds each for Mississippi State, and Poythress led Kentucky with eight rebounds.
Opponent in 2013-2014: The Wildcats ended up finishing 2012-2013 in a disappointing fashion when they missed the NCAA tournament, and Robert Morris provided the final blow to the Wildcats' season by eliminating them from the NIT in a first round matchup.
This season has proven to be far different for the Wildcats. The team enters SEC play with a 10-3 record. The losses came in close defeats versus Michigan State, North Carolina, and Baylor. Kentucky received a huge momentum boost by downing their rival, and defending national champions, Louisville earlier this year.
Julius Randle has been a welcomed addition to the Kentucky team this season, and he leads the team in scoring (18.1) and rebounding (10.6) per game. Cauley-Stein has also proven able on the glass with 8.2 rebounds per game, and he currently has 4.1 blocks per game as well.
The Harrison twins, Andrew, a 6' 6" point guard has proven difficult for teams to guard, and his brother Aaron also plays in the backcourt. Aaron pours in 14.7 points a game, good for second on the team, and Andrew also averages in double digits with 11.2 points per game.
Another freshman, James Young averages 13.8 points per contest.
From last year's contest, only Cauley-Stein and Poythress return among those that made heavy contributions to Kentucky's victory in February.