STARKVILLE, Miss. — Having written my column on Trey Lyles, here are three more things from Kentucky’s 74-56 win over Mississippi State:
1. Thanks to Kentucky’s sluggish start to the second half, Mississippi State was able to cut the deficit to four points, 41-37, with 15:10 left, and with 13:10 remaining, the top-ranked Cats held just an eight-point lead (47-39) on the host Bulldogs. Then all of a sudden, Kentucky was up 60-40.
“In a matter of about three minutes, an eight-point game went to a 20-point game,” Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said.
“A lot of blocked shots,” MSU guard Gavin Ware said.
“A blocked shot is just like a turnover,” Ray said. “It ignites their fast break.”
Indeed, Kentucky blocked nine shots, its highest total since Jan. 20, when the Cats blocked 11 shots in a home win over Vanderbilt.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Marcus Lee and Willie Cauley-Stein each blocked two shots. Trey Lyles, Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis also were credited with blocks. For the 5-foot-9 Ulis, it was his second blocked shot of the season.
2. Kentucky averaged 1.135 points per possession compared to 0.864 for Mississippi State. The Cats shot 49.1 percent to 37.3 for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs shot just 32.1 percent the second half.
State also made just 16 of 27 free throws for 59.3 percent, while UK was 12 of 13 from the line. It’s unusual for an opponent to shoot more free throws than the Cats.
“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” Calipari said.
“We didn’t take them out of everything they wanted to do because we didn’t win,” Ray said, smiling, when told of Calipari’s comment.
3. It was Kentucky’s 28th straight win, which is a school record for a single season. The previous mark was 27, set by the 1995-96 national title team.
It also passed John Calipari’s previous personal winning streak. His 2008-09 Memphis team won 27 straight games.
The Cats are now three games away from a perfect regular season. They play No. 18 Arkansas at home on Saturday, then travel to Georgia on March 3 before returning home to face Florida in the regular season finale on March 7.