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MSU hosts Kentucky Saturday night at The Hump

Mississippi State men's basketball coach Ben Howland being introduced as the program's 20th...
Mississippi State men's basketball coach Ben Howland being introduced as the program's 20th head coach(MSU Athletics)
Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 10:48 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) -

The Mississippi State men’s basketball team will look to complete a perfect opening week of SEC action when the Bulldogs face off against defending SEC champion and perineal league power Kentucky visits Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (6-3, 1-0 SEC) have strung together three consecutive wins and won five of its six games with Iverson Molinar in the lineup. Molinar pumped home 16 of his career-high 24 points during the second half of State’s 83-73 SEC opening triumph over Georgia (12/30).

D.J. Stewart Jr. chipped in 18 points and a season’s best seven rebounds, while Deivon Smith provided a spark off the bench with a career-best 13 points in the first half. Jalen Johnson gave the Bulldogs four players with double figures courtesy of a 12-point, five-rebound effort.

Mississippi State has posted a 54-33 overall mark and will look to snap a two-game losing skid in SEC home openers. A win also would give the Bulldogs their first 2-0 SEC start since the 2012-13 season.

Mississippi State heads into Saturday’s game with the SEC’s longest active home winning streak at 13 straight games dating back last year’s matchup with then No. 8 Auburn (01/04/2020). The 13-game run for the Bulldogs also sits tied for second among Power 5 schools with Kansas and Louisville. Only Oregon has a longer home winning streak at 27 games in the Power 5.

MSU-KENTUCKY HARDWOOD SERIES

Kentucky holds a 98-20 series advantage over the Bulldogs on the strength of 14 consecutive victories under John Calipari dating back to 2009-10 season.

The Wildcats tucked away an 80-72 decision at Rupp Arena last season. Nick Richards provided 27 points and 11 rebounds, whereas Immanuel Quickley dialed up 21 points for Kentucky. State was led by D.J. Stewart Jr. and Robert Woodard II’s 15 points apiece.

Mississippi State and Kentucky have split its previous four meetings as MSU’s SEC home opener in Starkville. Last time, the Bulldogs overcame a 20-point first half deficit and collected a 74-69 overtime victory over then No. 6 Kentucky (01/05/2002).

Mario Austin racked up 32 points, eight rebounds and two steals followed by 14 points from Derrick Zimmerman, who is on MSU’s coaching staff as the director of scouting and analytics.

The Matchup: Mississippi State (6-3, 1-0 SEC) vs. Kentucky (1-6, 0-0 SEC)

Where: Starkville, Mississippi – Humphrey Coliseum

When: Saturday, January 2, 5:00 p.m. CT

TV: SEC Network

Talent: Mike Morgan, Jon Sundvold

DirecTV: Ch. 611, Dish: Ch. 404/408, AT&T U-Verse: Ch. 1607, MaxxSouth: Ch. 1026, C Spire: Ch. 220

Online: Watch ESPN app & Watch ESPN online (Cable Subscription Required)

Radio: Mississippi State Sports Network – Powered by Learfield IMG College

Talent: Neil Price

MASKS/METAL DETECTORS/CLEAR BAGS

Mississippi State Athletics has received capacity guidelines and designed a socially distanced seating plan to host fans in the healthiest manner possible for the 2020-21 season.

The plan is focused on the recommended health and safety protocols put in place by health officials from the Mississippi State Department of Health, Mississippi State University, the city of Starkville, the Southeastern Conference and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to protect the well-being of all student-athletes, fans and staff.

Capacity at Humphrey Coliseum for the 2020-21 season will be 10 percent as determined by the Governor’s most recent Executive Order. All fans will be required to wear a face covering, face shield or mask, over the nose and mouth during all times except when actively eating or drinking while inside Humphrey Coliseum.

In an effort to continue Mississippi State’s long-standing commitment to provide a safe and secure environment for all fans, coaches and student-athletes, walk-through metal detectors have been implemented at all entrances of Humphrey Coliseum on basketball gamedays.

Fans will be asked to follow the instructions of the security screening staff and place large metal objects such as phones, keys and cameras in containers or in their clear bag on screening tables before passing through the walk-through metal detectors.

Fans will not be required to remove belts, watches, wallets, jewelry, shoes, jackets, coins or other small objects. The metal detectors and clear bag policies provide a safer atmosphere and speed up the entry process into The Hump.

Doors to Humphrey Coliseum open 60 minutes prior to tipoff.

Copyright 2021 WTOK. All rights reserved. Courtesy: HailState.com