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UK earns 8 seed in SEC Tournament; will face Mississippi State

Kentucky’s SEC Tournament path is now set.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Following their 92-64 win over South Carolina, the Kentucky Wildcats have earned the No. 8 seed in the 2021 SEC Tournament, which takes place in Nashville next week. Their first game will come Thursday vs. the 9-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs at noon ET on the SEC Network.

This will be the first time UK, who finished 8-9 in conference play, will begin its run before the quarterfinals since the tournament expanded in 2013.

The Wildcats will also try to win four games in a row at the SEC Tournament to clinch an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which UK hasn’t done since 1952. With no chance of getting an at-large bid, this is the only way the Wildcats can make it to the Big Dance.

Kentucky won the lone regular-season matchup between these two teams back in January, a 78-73 double-overtime win in Starkville that saw Dontaie Allen score a career-high 23 points with seven triples.

If the Wildcats are able to take down the Bulldogs for the second time this season, they’ll advance to Friday’s quarterfinals vs. the top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide, who swept the regular-season series.

Only once under John Calipari has Kentucky lost three times to the same team in one season. That came in 2013-14 when the Cats lost three times to Florida, though both teams ended up making the Final Four that season.

If Kentucky makes it to Friday, that game will also have a noon ET tip time. ESPN will have coverage of that matchup.