May 27, 2024




Four key observations emerged from Mississippi State’s 90-77 loss to No. 8 Kentucky in men’s basketball on Wednesday. Despite a notable upset against former No. 5 Tennessee, the Bulldogs have faced challenges in SEC play, holding a 1-3 conference record and an overall record of 12-5. The Kentucky matchup revealed several factors influencing the game’s outcome:

  1. First Half Shooting Struggles: Mississippi State encountered difficulties in the first half, falling behind 47-29. Despite committing fewer turnovers than Kentucky, the Bulldogs struggled with shooting efficiency, finishing the half at 35.5% from the field. Their challenges extended to inside and close-range shots, with numerous missed tip-ins and second-chance opportunities.
  2. Mississippi State closing in on Jeff Lebby as next football coach, reports say -
  3. Defensive Issues: Known for allowing an average of 64.8 points per game, Mississippi State faced defensive challenges against Kentucky. The Wildcats capitalized on inside and midrange areas, shooting 56% from the field. Kentucky’s offensive success was evident with multiple players, including Antonio Reeves, Rob Dillingham, Tre Mitchell, and Aaron Bradshaw, reaching double figures.
  4. High-Scoring Second Half: While Mississippi State’s defense struggled, the second half saw increased offensive production. Tolu Smith III, the Bulldogs’ All-SEC forward, made a significant impact, scoring 12 points early in the half. Despite Kentucky’s attempts to re-establish a double-digit lead, both teams engaged in a back-and-forth battle. Mississippi State’s shooting improved, closing the game at just under 45%.
  5. Josh Hubbard’s Three-Point Struggles: Notable Bulldog player Josh Hubbard, typically a bright star with a 15.1 points per game average, faced difficulties against Kentucky. Hubbard, named SEC Freshman of the Week recently, scored only three points and struggled with a 1-of-9 performance from beyond the arc. This marked a rare instance where Hubbard failed to reach double-digit points, raising questions about his performance in this specific game. The hope is for a rebound in upcoming matchups, starting with Vanderbilt on Saturday.

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