Men's Basketball
Big Blue Preview: Kentucky at Mississippi State

Big Blue Preview: Kentucky at Mississippi State

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been much speculation, projection and conjecture regarding the postseason hopes of the Kentucky basketball team.

The Cats are 16-9 on the season and sit at No. 45 in the NET rankings that the NCAA Tournament committee uses to choose the field of 68 teams. Those kinds of numbers place the Cats firmly on the bubble for the 2023 edition of March Madness.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, there’s still time, and opportunity, for the Cats to put together a resume that gets them into the field. In fact, the final six-game stretch will give UK quite a few chances to improve their numbers and, in turn, their tournament stock, over the next 20 days.

The Kentucky players know what’s at stake, according to assistant coach Chin Coleman.

“I think our guys’ mindset is, they have a sense of urgency,” Coleman said. “I think they know that we’ve got to get ourselves together again right now, as we move down the stretch of the season. We want to finish strong in the conference, have a good showing in the conference tournament and, after that, the tournament if we take care of those things step by step.”

Coleman says, however, that this is something that every team goes through at this point in the season.

“I think that, around this time of year, no matter what the circumstances or the situation is, there’s a sense of urgency,” Coleman said. “You’re nearing the conference tournament, postseason play all of that stuff is starting to play a factor.”

However, rather than thinking about the six games as a whole, Coleman knows that the Cats need to turn their attention to the details.

“The elephant in the room is there that the season is coming to an end, there’s six games left and we’ve got the postseason, the conference tournament,” Coleman said. “But we’ve got to focus on today, focus on winning today.”

Mississippi State offers Kentucky an opportunity for a Quad 1 win. The Bulldogs are 17-8 and have a NET ranking of 40. Getting a win in Starkville could put the Cats back on the positive side of the bubble. But Coleman knows that winning at Humphrey Coliseum will be a challenge.

“They force a lot of turnovers and they score off of turnovers,” Coleman said. “And they’re offensive rebounding at a high rate. Their defense can cause offense.”

Tipoff on Wednesday is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.

Wallace is Evolving into Mr. Clutch

Cason Wallace has proved to be a player the Wildcats can rely on in the clutch. In games within five or fewer points with less than five minutes to play, Wallace has been a go-to type for the Cats.


• vs. Michigan State: 5 points (2-2 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-4 FT); 2 rebounds, 1 steal
• vs. Michigan: 3 points (1-1 FG, 1-1 3PT, 0-2 FT)
• vs. LSU: 2 points (1-1 FG); 1 assist
• vs. Tennessee: 1 rebound, 2 assists
• vs. Texas A&M: 2 points (1-1 FG)
• vs. Florida: 7 points (2-2 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT); 1 rebound, 1 assist

Road Warriors

Kentucky has once again played one of the toughest schedules in the country on the court, but it has also been perhaps the most grueling travel schedule in John Calipari’s tenure. Kentucky played four nonconference games away from home in the first five weeks of the season totaling more than 14,138 miles traveled.

• Kentucky took on Michigan State in Indianapolis, traveling 376 miles round trip
• The Cats then played a road contest at Gonzaga. That trip consisted of a five-hour flight each direction and 4,328 total miles traveled
• UK played in the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic in London, England to end November. That round trip consisted of 8,016 miles
• Kentucky finished its nonconference travel with a date in Madison Square Garden for the CBS Sports Classic and a game vs. UCLA. The roundtrip mileage was 1,418 for that contest
• Things didn’t get easier for the Cats, as UK opened its SEC slate on the road at Missouri, spanning 921 miles
• This particular group of Cats also spent time at Baha Mar Resort in The Bahamas this summer (1,976 miles) and played its Blue-White Game in Pikeville, Kentucky (287 miles) before the season ever began

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