The 8th ranked Kentucky Wildcats will be hosting the 22nd ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs tonight at 7:00 p.m. The Wildcats sit at 4-1 in the SEC and 14-3 overall, while the Bulldogs are 2-2 in the SEC and 14-3 overall.
What to Expect From Kentucky?
According to Kenpom, Kentucky ranks 17th in the country in defensive efficiency and 21st in offensive efficiency.
Defensively, they rank in the top 100 in the country in turnover percentage, two-point percentage, block percentage, and offensive rebounding percentage. The Wildcats only give up 68.2 points per game. This is impressive considering they have played the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Auburn.
Offensively, the Wildcats are paced by Keldon Johnson (14.9 points, 5.1 rebounds), Tyler Herro (13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists), Reid Travis (13.0 points, 6.4 rebounds) and PJ Washington (11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds). They grab offensive rebounds on 37.7% of their possessions, which ranks 9th in the nation.
The Wildcats have an effective field goal percentage of 54.2%, which ranks inside the top 50. Unlike last year, they have multiple offensive options. Keldon Johnson is their most versatile offensive player. He attacks the basket with authority and is a deadly three point shooter at 39.0%.
His freshman counterpart, Tyler Herro, hasn’t been as efficient and effective as Johnson. However, he is certainly a guy that you don’t want to leave open. His 33.3% three-point shooting is right around average at the college level, but he came into Kentucky as a big-time shooter.
While the Wildcats don’t have a big name guy like John Wall or Karl-Anthony Towns, their depth has given them the opportunity to be successful.
"We've got a chance to make a statement. A MAJOR statement."
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 22, 2019
What to Expect From Mississippi State?
Even though the Bulldogs haven’t gotten off to the start in SEC play that they would have hoped for, they have an opportunity to win their third straight game on the road against a top ten team. They have an offensive efficiency of 115.7, which is 20th in the country. They also have a defensive efficiency of 96.6, which is 52nd in the country.
The Bulldogs are very dominant shooting the ball. They have an effective field goal percentage of 55.7%, which ranks 23rd in the nation. They also connect on 38.3% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Along with these stellar shooting splits, they rank in the top 65 in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, two-point percentage, and free throw percentage.
They are led by senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who is averaging 16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. The rest of their scoring attack is rounded out by Lamar Peters (13.4 points per game), Aric Holman (12.4 points per game) and Nick Weatherspoon (10.2 points per game).
Defensively, the Bulldogs are very solid. They force a ton of blocks and steals and play as a unit. They don’t have any big time interior presence, but they are gritty and get the job done.
When and Where?
The game will be played at 7:00 p.m. at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.