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Indifferent Wildcats Ride Out Clock in 69-59 Win Over Miss. State

This story appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by James Pennington. KY Forward's coverage of UK Athletics is sponsored by Republic Bank.

No. 18 Kentucky never really pulled away from Mississippi State on Saturday, though the Wildcats always seemed on the brink of doing so. The Wildcats didn’t dominate at the free-throw line like they usually do—with volume instead of efficiency at the foul line—or on the offensive glass, or anywhere, really.

Still, Kentucky won 69-59, because even if it didn’t pull away, it held a reasonable distance, and then the clock ran out.

The Wildcats played all along like the main goal was to simply allow the clock to expire. The team was 45 percent from the floor but it didn’t assert itself in the lane against a much smaller and much less deep Mississippi State team. Kentucky finished 12 of 18 from the free-throw line, and its 18 attempts were tied for its second-lowest output of the season.

The Bulldogs were down to seven scholarship players—coach Rick Ray only has eight on a good day, and starting guard I.J. Ready did not dress for the game with an illness. Still, the Bulldogs hung around and never trailed by any more than 12 points—a stark contrast from UK’s 85-63 win over the Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on Jan. 8.

Julius Randle led the Wildcats with 16 points and seven rebounds. Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood provided quality minutes off the bench to bolster an unenergetic Wildcats starting five. Hood played a season-high 13 minutes and scored three points, while Polson provided stability atop the key, especially in the final five minutes of the game when Andrew Harrison had fouled out.

KyForward.com was not in Starkville, Miss., for this game. This report was compiled via television coverage.

Photo: Jarrod Polson/KY Forward file