Despite having possibly the best first half of basketball in the Rick Ray era Mississippi State came out flat early in the second half and lost 85-63 to No. 14 Kentucky (10-4, 1-0) at Rupp Arena.
The Bulldogs (10-4, 0-1) shot 15-34 after twenty minutes of play, including a perfect 8-8 at the charity stripe. The battle of the boards was the only downfall for MSU in the first. But one must remember college basketball has two parts: A first half and a second half.
The second was a completely different ballgame from every aspect possible. The Wildcats came out and hit their first five of six shots, and it didn't stop for almost fifteen minutes. They went on a few runs in the first ten minutes of play including a demoralizing 14-2 route. Fouls, easy missed baskets, intimidation, and a barrage of turnovers took MSU out of the contest quick, fast, and in a hurry. It became very evident to Ray's squad that Kentucky was more talented, deeper, and much fancier group of And-1-esque alley-oopers. MSU lost almost an identical scoring game in Lexington last season, 85-55.
As far as numbers go, MSU was led by sophomore Craig Sword with 19 points. Sword also went 9-10 from the free throw line, had three steals, two assists, two rebounds, and committed five turnovers. Roquez Johnson and Trivante Bloodman both came off the bench for 12 and 13 points. Gave Ware had a team-high 10 rebounds but a disappointing four points. Kentucky's unreal freshman James Young led the Wildcats with a game-high 26 points to go along with ten rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block. Big Blue also show impressive second half performances by Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, and Andrew Harrison.
Fortunately, State returns to the court Saturday when they host easy-going Marshall Henderson and the Ole Miss Rebels. Tip is at 3 p.m. with an ESPNU broadcast for those of you that straddle maroon fences. Pack The Hump out and get a 'lil crazy, Bulldogs. It could be a rather fun one.
UPDATE at 10:06 p.m.
It's come to our attention Mr. Henderson will be benched Saturday due to self-imposed violations back in October. Oh well. It'll still be fun to see him drain a three in XXXL cargo pants during warmups.