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Mississippi State Bulldogs Versus Kentucky Wildcats Preview

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The Bulldogs face their biggest challenge of the season with the Kentucky Wildcats coming to Starkville.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kentucky vs Stony Brook Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Mississippi State Bulldogs Men’s Basketball Team on the verge of returning to its glory years? After a 3-1 start to SEC play, the team and fans are confident that it is. The Bulldogs get a chance to truly test themselves when one of the most talented teams in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats, come to town.

Broadcast Info and Venue

  • Location: Starkville, MS (Humphrey Coliseum)
  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Television: ESPN
  • Radio: MSU Radio Network (Check local listings, also available on the Tune-In Radio App)

Info to know

Mississippi State Profile

  • Record (12-4, 3-1 SEC)
  • Record at home: 7-3
  • RPI: 119
  • Current Place in SEC Standings: Tied for 4th

Kentucky Profile

  • Record (15-2, 5-0 SEC)
  • Record on the road: 6-1
  • RPI: 6
  • Current Place in SEC Standings: Tied for 1st

Projected Starting Lineups

Mississippi State

  • Quinndary Weatherspoon (17.9 PPG, 49.7 FG%, 47.1 3PT%, 4.7 RPG)
  • Lamar Peters (10.4 PPG, 42.2 FG%, 43.1 3PT%, 2.9 APG)
  • Mario Kegler (9.2 PPG, 39.1 FG%, 31.0 3PT%, 5.5 RPG)
  • Aric Holman (10.3 PPG, 52.2 FG%, 6.8 RPG, 2.3 BPG)
  • Schnider Herard (4.3 PPG, 54.5 FG%, 4.9 RPG)

Kentucky

  • Malik Monk (21.8 PPG, 50.8 FG%, 2.2 APG, 41.5 3PT%)
  • De’Aaron Fox (16.5 PPG, 47.5 FG%, 6.4 APG, 5.0 RPG)
  • Isaiah Briscoe (15.4 PPG, 51.9 FG%, 4.3 RPG)
  • Edrice Adebayo (13.2 PPG, 59.4 FG%, 7.4 RPG, 1.8 BPG)
  • Wenyen Gabriel (5.5 PPG, 45.2 FG%, 6.1 RPG)

The Storylines

  • Malik Monk is a monster. He is as complete a basketball player as you will see at the collegiate level. He can drive the lane and create scoring opportunities off the dribble, and he can sit outside and hurt you behind the three point arc. He’s the leading scorer in the SEC, and he will be among the first few players to hear their name called in the NBA Draft this summer.
  • That being said, tonight’s game presents a great opportunity for Quinndary Weatherspoon. There hasn’t been a ton of talk for Weatherspoon as a possible SEC Player of the Year, but that could change tonight. Monk and Weatherspoon will likely spend the night guarding each other, so if Q can have a big game and lead the Bulldogs to an upset, look for the talk of accolades for Weatherspoon to heat up.
  • Protect the ball. This isn’t Kentucky’s best defensive team since John Calipari took over, but it is still pretty good. The Wildcats force 16.2 turnovers and only turn it over themselves 10.8 times a game. They don’t have one guy who stands out as a shot blocker, but many of the players on the team are pretty good at it. The Wildcats lead the SEC with 6.2 blocks per game.
  • Slow them down. The Bulldogs have a lineup that can get out and score in transition, but if they want to win this game, they’ll need to be very picky about when they try to get the ball out in transition. Kentucky is one of the highest scoring teams in the country, averaging 93.6 points a game, and shooting an almost unheard of 49.5% form the field. Kentucky likes to run and get high percentage shots and it has led to one of the best scoring machines in the country.
  • On a related note, if the Bulldogs force bad shots all game long, this will lead to easy buckets. Mississippi State has to be patient on offense and make sure they are getting quality shots up against the Wildcats. If they force up contested threes and shots inside the lane with two or three defenders in front of them, then there will be a lot of dunks for Kentucky.
  • Schnider Herard needs to pick up where he left off. We’ve been waiting for Herard to have a big game, and we finally got it Saturday against the Texas A&M Aggies. He’ll be needed to provide a post presence against the Kentucky big men. He doesn’t necessarily have to have 16 points, but Herard needs to be a threat down low to help open up shots for the guards on the outside.

Prediction

I truly do not know what to expect from this game. I could see an inspired Mississippi State team coming out and giving the Wildcats all they can handle and pulling out a close game. I could also see Kentucky coming out and blowing the doors off the Bulldogs and not making it much of a contest. Anything between those two are also very possible. I’m going to go with a good performance by the Bulldogs throughout most of the game, and Kentucky pulling away in the end. Bulldogs hang around before Kentucky pulls away 85-76.