Mississippi State matched a school record by hitting 14 3-point baskets in a stunning 66-57 Southeastern Conference men’s basketball win over Kentucky Tuesday night in the Rupp Arena.
MSU won on the UK campus for the first time since 1995 and for only the second time ever in Rupp Arena. The Bulldogs have now won five times all-time in Lexington with this being the largest margin of victory there. The Bulldogs improved to 15-7 overall and 5-2 in league play. Kentucky lost its third straight game to fall to 16-7 and 5-3.
MSU and Kentucky are now the only league teams with three road wins in conference play this season. The Bulldogs have now won three straight meetings from the Wildcats for the first time in school history. In this contest, there were no ties and the Bulldogs never trailed.
The Bulldogs shot a season-best in conference play 51.9 percent from 3-point range. The Bulldogs hit 14 of 27 shots from behind the arc. MSU has now hit 14 3-point attempts in six different ballgames, including this season’s win over Western Kentucky.
“The key to the game was rebounding,” MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “We were a very good team on the boards tonight. That, and we jumped up and made shots.”
Tuesday’s contest started out as a defensive struggle. MSU scored the first eight points of the contest. UK missed its first nine shots before breaking the ice at the 13:59 mark of the first half. The Wildcats then battled back from an 11-2 deficit with eight straight points. Still, MSU never lost the momentum. A Ravern Johnson 3-point basket gave MSU a 23-16 advantage.
The Bulldogs would eventually stretch that lead to a 13-point push - leading 37-24 at halftime. Again Johnson had the hot hand, ramming home a 3-point basket as the first half ran out.
In the second half, MSU held three different 13-point advantages, including a 43-30 lead with 15:04 remaining. UK then sparked the home crowd with a 10-0 run, cutting the deficit to 43-40 with 11:02 remaining.
From there, the Bulldogs reeled off a stunning 18-5 run to open the game’s largest advantage at 61-45 with 3:08 left. After hitting nine 3-point baskets in the opening half, the Bulldogs hit four during the game clinching run.
“Our kids played with a lot of confidence,” Stansbury said. “This is a difficult place to bounce back. But we came on the road and found a way. This is not an easy place to play. I never felt like Kentucky ever had a hold of this game.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 23 of 52 shots from the field (44.2 percent), 14 of 27 shots from 3-point range (51.9 percent) and 6 of 10 shots from the foul line (60.0 percent). The Wildcats hit 21 of 59 shots from the field (35.6 percent), 4 of 14 shots from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 11 of 14 shots from the foul line (78.6 percent).
UK held a 38-33 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 16 turnovers, while the Wildcats had nine assists and 15 turnovers. The Bulldogs recorded 13 blocked shots, which is the most in a conference game this season.
Phil Turner led the Bulldogs with 18 points, while Johnson added 17 points. Barry Stewart added 13 points, while Dee Bost scored 10 points. Jarvis Varnado shook off early foul trouble to pull 12 rebounds and block seven shots.
Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson each had 15 points to pace Kentucky’s offensive attack.
The Bulldogs return home for a 2 p.m. start Saturday against conference foe Arkansas. SEC play then resumes next Wednesday when LSU comes to town for a 7 p.m. start. The MSU-Arkansas contest will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports.