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Kentucky expects to face “desperate” Mississippi State Saturday afternoon

Ashton Hagans hopes to disrupt Mississippi State’s offense again. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky beat Mississippi State 76-55 last month in Rupp Arena but freshman guard Ashton Hagans says Wednesday’s overtime loss at home to LSU will have Mississippi State coming out “with a chip on their shoulder” for Saturday’s game with the Cats.

“They’re going to come out ready to fight. So, we’ve just got to be prepared and stay focused,” Hagans said. “It’s just like any other game. Everybody is going to come out and give us the best shot that they’ve got. So we’ve got to stay focused and play as a team.”

Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee isn’t worried about this being a trap game with SEC showdown looming next week with LSU and No. 1 Tennessee for Kentucky.

“I’ve heard a couple of times trap games and this and that. Not with this team. This team is focused. I mean, you see it every day in practice. Practices are so competitive that you can’t expect a letdown in the games,” Barbee said. “These guys have been practicing, going after each other, competing against each other, they’re having fun together, and so, it doesn’t matter the opponent on the floor, they’re going to come to play every night.”

That doesn’t mean he is not concerned about State.

“They’re physical. They’re as big and as physical as any team in the league, and then you’ve got the experience in the backcourt with (Lamar) Peters and the Weatherspoon brothers (Quinndary and Nick),” Barbee said. “They have all of the dynamics to be a fantastic team, and you see Reggie Perry kind of growing up before your eyes the way he’s playing the last five games or so. It’s really made them a potent team.”

Barbee expects the Bulldogs to be “desperate” after the home loss to LSU, which still has just one SEC loss just like Kentucky.

“They are as talented and as big, and as physical and talented on the perimeter as any team in the league,” Barbee said about Mississippi State.  “That probably stung giving that one away on their home court (to LSU), so it’s going to be obviously a sold-out arena like we face everywhere and our guys are getting used to playing in those kinds of environments on the road.

“We’re going to come out and give them our best and I’m sure they’re going to do the same as us.”

2 comments

  1. Mississippi State is a dangerous opponent. South Carolina’s record was far better than its team, but with Mississippi State, the opposite is true. This team is much better than its record.

    Against SC, the final margin was huge because UK is that much stronger than SC regardless of their record. Tomorrow, I think the margin is likely to be single digits, and the game is likely to be competitive for most of the game, not being decided until the final 4 minute game segment.

    Buckle up!

    If this game occurs 3 weeks from now, it would likely not be nearly so dangerous because the reality of the season will be set for them with little left to really fight for, but at the mid point of the SEC race, MSU has plenty left on the table to fight for, and I expect they will leave it all on the court against UK.

  2. We only have one easy game left if you can call Missouri easy. The backend of the schedule will separate the contenders from the pretenders. Do we have the fortitude to see this season through to the end? I hope so, but time for talking is over. The scoreboards will have the final say in this matter.

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