- Saturday, January 22 1994 -
Kentucky - 86 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Mississippi State - 70 (Head Coach: Richard Williams) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Mississippi State 38, Kentucky 34
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Florida 57 - 59|||||South Carolina 79 - 67|
Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 3 No. 21. (All Rights Reserved)
Bulldogs Bashed by a Battered Bunch of Wildcats:
Kentucky managed to get its first (tough) road win of the season in Starkville as the Cats persevered 86- 70. Pitino put the Wildcats through a rigorous workout prior to the game, and was quoted by the press as saying that this was a "must" win for his team.
Rodrick Rhodes started the scoring for the Cats, followed by McCarty with a hook and Riddick with a layup. UK commenced with a really aggressive press, which succeeded in getting an early 5 second call against MSU. The Bulldogs came right back, however, and tied the score at 6-6. Rhodes was cold early, missing several 3 point and 2 point baskets. Riddick hit a cold stretch too, but played tough defense and had several steals and deflections. Kentucky surprisingly got several breaks on the officiating, getting many out of bounds calls which were questionable at best. As in the Florida game, both teams hit a stagnation point, which was broken for UK by a Delk 3 pointer. Tony had been fouled on a rebound, but somehow the call went against him. Anthony Epps hit a fine 3, then got a rebound to help Kentucky to a 12-6 lead 9 minutes into the game.
UK and MSU held miserable 29% and 28% field goal shooting percentages early in the contest. Two successive Darryl Wilson 3 pointers pushed MSU back to within 17-14. Prickett had a couple of turnovers, and Ford had a terrible 3 point shot. Rhodes, despite not shooting well, saved a ball going out of bounds to Ford, who got it to Delk for an impressive 3.
MSU crawled back and led by as many as 5 points in the first half, but the Wildcats did some scrapping themselves and were down by only 38-34 at the break. Mississippi State had been bothered by the Wildcat pressure, however - MSU had *17* first half turnovers. They had been 8-0 when leading at the half, but it was not to be this time.
UK continued its high level of defensive pressure in the second half, and fortunately its shooting was better as well. The Cats quickly pushed out to a 41-38 point lead with less than 5 minutes gone in the second half. Several Kentucky baskets were made after 3 or 4 beautiful passes. The Bulldogs kept it close for a while, but the inevitable UK surge took place, largely due to improved rebounding and putback baskets. Leads of 7, 9, and 12 points were built on McCarty second shots, Ford free throws, and a Ford 3 pointer. MSU began to have defensive breakdowns, which allowed Prickett and Ford to drive to the basket unmolested on a couple of occasions each.
The lead bounced between 9 and 12 points in the games' final minutes. UK got two baskets in succession from goaltending calls. When Rhodes tried an unwise 3 pointer it prompted Pitino to call a timeout to tell his team to settle down and use the clock more wisely. Martinez had a couple of nice assists to Prickett, and Ford and Prickett interacted well for a couple of pick and rolls. MSU began fouling to try to catch up, which accounted for the final margin being so large (the Cats lead was "only" 11 with 1 minute to go). The Bulldogs ended the game with 30 turnovers. Travis Ford missed two free throws in this game, but thankfully, his misses occurred during noncritical periods.
[JNB note - Kentucky looked pretty good in this one, although a little shaky in the first half. Considering how wobbly they appeared in the Georgia and Florida games on the road, this one was a welcome relief.] In his weekly TV program, Coach Pitino reiterated a post-game claim that this MSU game was Kentucky's most important regular season win of his coaching stint at UK. His previous teams could have easily recovered from such a loss, he said, but after the Georgia and Florida losses, a win on the road against a good team was essential for the players' psyches.
MSU's Erick Dampier (#25) works between Kentucky's Jared Prickett (#32) and Gimel Martinez (#44)
MSU center Bubba Wilson (#33) dunks in front of Tony Delk (#00) and Rodrick Rhodes
MSU's George Brooks pulls down a rebound