Starkville, MS (SportsNetwork.com) - The top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats look to continue the best start in school history, as they take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in an SEC matchup at Humphrey Coliseum on Wednesday night.
John Calipari's Wildcats are the only undefeated team in the nation and are sporting a flawless 27-0 record. Kentucky is eyeing up the SEC regular-season crown and will clinch a share of the conference title with a win over Mississippi State here. The team moved to 14-0 in league play with Saturday's 110-75 rout of Auburn.
Mississippi State is facing a tall task in hopes of halting Kentucky's lengthy win streak. The Bulldogs have had their ups and downs this season, and currently sit three games under .500 overall (12-15) and four games under that mark in the SEC (5-9). MSU is facing its second straight ranked foe after falling to Arkansas on Saturday, 65-61. It was the second straight defeat for the Bulldogs and fourth in the last five games.
Kentucky holds a sizable 90-21 lead in the all-time series and has won seven straight over Mississippi State.
The Wildcats erupted on the offensive end of the floor against Auburn over the weekend and that in and of itself should scare the rest of the nation. Usually an elite defensive squad, UK shot a scorching .647 from the field against the Tigers and rolled to victory. Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with a double- double consisting of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Aaron Harrison poured in 18 points, while brother Andrew just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine assists. Dakari Johnson (13 pts), Devin Booker (11 pts) and Tyler Ulis (10 pts) all added to the scoring deluge for Kentucky.
The 110 points were far and away the highest scoring total of the season for Kentucky, which averages a much more modest 74.7 ppg. Where the Wildcats have dominated is on the defensive end, ranking first in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.342) and scoring margin (+22.1) and second in the nation in both scoring defense (52.6 ppg) and blocked shots (188). Aaron Harrison and Booker lead the way at the offensive end, both averaging 11.0 ppg. Willie Cauley-Stein (9.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Towns (9.2 ppg, 6.4 ppg) are an intimidating low-post duo. The pair have combined for 105 blocks this season.
The Bulldogs could be in for a long day considering the team has struggled offensively against a number of opponents this season, none of which possess the defensive resume that Kentucky does. Mississippi State is generating a mere 62.1 ppg and doing so on a pedestrian .428 shooting. The team does own a solid +4.2 rebounding margin, but suffers from a -3.0 turnover margin. Much like Kentucky, MSU doesn't boast of any prolific scoring options. The Bulldogs are paced by junior forward Gavin Ware and his 10.2 ppg. Ware is the only Bulldog currently in double figure scoring, although senior forward Roquez Johnson (9.9 ppg) and junior guards Craig Sword (9.8 ppg) and Fred Thomas (9.7 ppg) could join him at any time.
It was a back-and-forth affair at the Humphrey Coliseum over the weekend, but the Razorbacks were able to get the last laugh and earn a hard-fought win over the hometown Bulldogs. Sword led a trio of MSU players in double figures with 15 points. Ware and Travis Daniels added 13 and 11 points, respectively. The real difference came at the free-throw line, where Arkansas outscored Mississippi State, 24-14.