Kentucky Basketball vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
- Game Time: 9:00 pm ET
- Date: January 25th, 2022
- Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
- TV Channel: ESPN will have tonight’s TV broadcast.
- Announcers: Karl Ravech, Jimmy Dykes and Marty Smith.
- Listen: UK Sports Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt.
- Satellite Radio: Sirius 81 | XM 81 | SXM App 81
- Rosters: UK I MSU
- Stats To Know: UK I MSU
- Team Sheets: UK I MSU
- Odds: DraftKings has Kentucky favored by 9.5 points. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Wildcats an 86.2% chance of winning. KenPom gives the Cats an 84% chance of winning. Barttorvik projected them to be an 11-point favorite with an 85 chance of winning.
- Predictions: KenPom projects a 79-68 win for the Cats, while Barrtovik is going with the same margin for the home team. TeamRankings predicts a 74-65 victory, Kentucky!
The Kentucky Wildcats will look to rebound from Saturday’s setback at Auburn when the Mississippi State Bulldogs invade Rupp Arena on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, injuries once again played a major factor in a road game the Wildcats really needed to win and looked poised to before TyTy Washington went down.
After going down with an ankle injury early in the game at Auburn, the status of Washington remains up in the air for UK’s matchup with Mississippi State on Tuesday night.
“It hurts us. TyTy is a playmaker,” Calipari said. “Whether he’s on the ball, off the ball, whether we run stuff for him, when he needs to go get a basket, he gets it.”
Kentucky came out firing on all cylinders on Saturday, but unsurprisingly, the offense began to sputter without Washington in the game.
That wasn’t the only player personnel obstacle for UK in their 80-71 loss to Auburn.
Point guard Sahvir Wheeler was once again banged up after being obliterated by a screen in the second half. He appeared less than 100% for much of the game which also throttled the Cats hopes for an upset.
Bottom line is that Kentucky wasn’t able to get it done and missed another chance to secure a huge Quad-1 win on the road.
Any rational person has to take into consideration the fact that the Cats weren’t at full strength when projecting how they’ll finish out the last six weeks of the regular season.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Kentucky will see Auburn again in Tampa this March at the SEC Tournament.
Next up for UK is the 9 pm time slot Tuesday night against the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Thankfully, this means a return to the familiar surroundings of Rupp Arena against an opponent with nowhere near the talent level of Auburn.
However, Ben Howland’s Bulldogs are 4-2 in the SEC, which includes a 76-78 win over Alabama just a few weeks ago on January 15th.
The Bulldogs will be coming off an 18-point victory over their in-state rival Ole Miss and have won three of their last four.
MSU’s Iverson Molinar is an experienced junior guard who’s pouring in 17.7 points per game on the season, which ranks third in the SEC. Molinar operates efficiently, as he’s top five in the conference shooting 48.7% from the field while also averaging a team-high 4.3 assists per game.
With the uncertainty of UK’s backcourt health, containing Molinar may be priority number one on Tuesday night.
If TyTy Washington is unable to go, UK will be relying heavily on the veteran presence of Davion Mintz, the super senior transfer from Creighton.
In Washington’s absence, Mintz played 31 minutes on the road at Auburn but scored just five points on 2/7 shooting, including 0/2 from deep. He was able to dish out four assists during his extended minutes.
The Bulldogs’ frontcourt is led by junior forward Tolu Smith, who’s averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 boards per game. Right behind him is North Carolina transfer Garrison Brooks at 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest.
Another transfer Kentucky fans will remember is junior forward D.J. Jeffries, who was once committed to the Wildcats and spent his first two seasons at Memphis before landing in Starkville this offseason. Jeffries is averaging 10.7 points, 4.7 boards and 1.8 assists per game.
One other Bulldog to watch for is sophomore guard Shakeel Moore, the team’s top three-point shooter (36% on 86 attempts). He’s averaging 11.2 points and 2.3 assists per game.
Of course, the Shaedon Sharpe watch will continue for Kentucky, but I’d anticipate Mintz being the guy who picks up the workload if Washington can’t go.
Keep in mind that the Cats have another monster game on Saturday when they travel to Lawrence to play the No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks.
We all know how badly UK needs a big win, but it can’t come at the expense of overlooking a capable team like Mississippi State.
Since this article was posted, Mississippi State announced that junior forward Tolu Smith is week-to-week with a knee injury suffered in Saturday’s win over Ole Miss.
It’s great to know it wasn’t more serious and that he’ll likely be back this season. However, it looks highly unlikely he’ll play this week at Kentucky.
Look for junior forward Javian Davis to see extended minutes Tuesday alongside Garrison Brooks and D.J. Jeffries in the Bulldog frontcourt.