The Mississippi State Bulldogs face the Kentucky Wildcats as the first game of round two of the SEC Tournament. The winner of this matchup will face the No. 1 seed Alabama in round three of the tournament.
Kentucky is entering the game as the 8th seed as they finished the regular season 8-9 in conference play. The Bulldogs are right behind them as the 9th seed, finishing the season with two loses on their last three games. They ended with a 8-10 record against SEC opponents.
Although Kentucky finished the season with a losing record, they managed to win four of their last six game with effective shooting from the three-point line.
Leading opponents in three-point shooting has been the key to winning games this season. An example of this can be seen when these two teams met earlier this season.
Mississippi State hosted the Wildcats on Jan. 2, with Kentucky earning a 78-73 victory. Kentucky made 11 of their 21 shots from behind the arch, making it a 52.4 percentage compared to Mississippi’s 33.3.
But the Bulldogs should not focus on the outcome of their last game against the Wildcats, as Kentucky’s productive three-point shooting has only been seen few times this season.
In fact, Mississippi State is fourth in the SEC in 3-point percentage, while Kentucky is eight.
Both teams however are very even when it comes to rebounding. The Bulldogs are fourth in the SEC in rebounding, averaging 38.4. Kentucky is right behind them at fifth with 38.4.
One thing Kentucky does better than the Bulldogs is making free throws. Kentucky holds the number five spot in the SEC when it comes to free throws, as they have made 73.4 percent of their shots.
Mississippi State is not even close. The Bulldogs are actually in last place in the SEC in free-throws. They have made 64.1 percent of their shots this season.
Players to Look Out For
Both Kentucky and Mississippi State featured players in the SEC All-Defensive Team. Kentucky freshman Isaiah Jackson received this honor after leading the SEC in blocks per game, averaging 2.6.
Also featured is Mississippi State’s redshirt senior Abdul Ado, who holds the thirds spot in blocks-per-game, averaging two.
If Kentucky wants to win the rebound game, they will have to do their best at stopping sophomore Tolu Smith. The 6’10” forward leads the SEC in rebounding, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game.
Kentucky will also have to stop Mississippi State’s D.J. Stewart Jr., who is number five in the SEC when it comes to points per game. The guard is averaging 16.5 points per game.
Right behind him on the sixth spot is teammate Iverson Molinar with a 16.4 average.
The closest Kentucky player on the points-per-game leaders list is Brandon Boston Jr, who is in the 27th spot with a 12 average.