MISSISSIPPI STATE: (14-7) – (5-3 SEC)    ~  KENTUCKY: (16-5) – (6-2 SEC)

Well tonight for the Elite Shadow Bets “Game of the Night” we got us a doozie as two really good teams, but both with flaws, match up in Big Blue Land and we will learn tonight is this Mississippi State team a possible Final 4 type crasher and also is Kentucky as “soft” as they have played a lot this season, especially on Saturday when Auburn beat them around like a rag doll. Huge game for both and a win by Bulldogs ties them in SEC standings with the Wildcats.

Let’s look first at Mississippi State. You first see a record of (14-7) and you say decent team. But this is a team really starting to come together and fire on all cylinders of late winning 5 straight SEC games and the only loss in last 6 games overall was a 1 point loss vs. Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. Their last SEC loss also came by just one point to LSU.  Of all the Top CBB teams I’ve watched closely that are currently not a Top 25 team, Mississippi State is by far the best one of them all. They win tonight and they likely will be in Top 25 next week. They have really only had one terrible game (Loss) this year away from Home and that was losing 90-69 to a sneaky good Alabama team. They have played all other top tier talent very close so far. They won at Florida 78-71. They have wins over Tennessee and Arkansas, two not super teams, but both very good ones. 

Mississippi State is coached by Ben Howland, a Defense “first” type guy. And wow does he have the exact type of team he loves as they are super physical and also more old school Offense as they score 77% of their points with 2 point baskets and Free Throws. They are led by one of the most intimidating “beasts” in the country in big man Reggie Perry. He is 6-10 and 250 but all muscle and long arms. He averages (17.2 points) and (10 reb’s) but in SEC play he’s taken his game up two notches going for (21.8/10.6). In his last 5 games he’s taken his game to the highest possible level, averaging (24.4/10.4) and simply manhandling his guy in paint on both ends of floor.

Next we go over to check out “Big Blue” and Kentucky has a really good team. Is this one of HC J. Calipari’s best teams ever? Not even close. Why? Because for one they have only 8 scholarship players left and they simply play “soft” more than they play “tough/physical”. Usually by this time of the year we see Kentucky teams starting to come together after the usual “learning steps” process they go thru with 4 Freshmen coming in. But they play mostly a team with older guys now including a Junior, Nick Richards, and Center Nate Sestina who is a Senior. They have a PG A. Hagans who is now a Sophmore with lots of minutes under his belt. Yes the record looks good at (16-5) but this isn’t a great Kentucky team right now, just a good one. Tonight Richards and Hagans must bring their “A” games as they surely didn’t Saturday in beatdown at Auburn. The Wildcats were out rebounded 40-28 and Richards got pushed around the entire game, especially facing the most physical SEC team in Mississippi State. Hagans of late has been really careless with the ball, turning it over often and just totally out of sync shooting ball. He scored just 5 points vs. Auburn and the Coaches saw on game tape that he was lazy on Defense, reaching for steals, and getting into foul trouble. He played only 20 minutes vs. Auburn and this team needs him on court 30+ minutes to win games. Last game Forward N. Price scored only 7 points, this after 9 straight games in double digits. He also needs a much better or game tonight or the Bulldogs will leave with a “W”. 

Kentucky does have Home wins of 9, 10, 12, and 8 points (that though an Overtime win vs. L’ville so much closer than that 8 point win looks). This coming against 3 weak teams as well. They simply aren’t blowing anyone out like the old days. You have to give them credit as they hung tough to win two Overtimes games vs. really good teams (Texas Tech too). At this point though it’s unlikely they overnight become a team that will blow out anyone great. They just don’t play physical enough and Sestina isn’t producing at the high level they hoped since he’s now a Senior. Richards before last game has been the “count on” guy averaging an insane 66% FG and 8.2 rebounds and 14 points and 2.3 blocks per game. It’s Hagans and Sestina who are up and down and not consistent. In their last two games Kentucky has been out rebounded (68-50). Now facing beast mode of Bulldogs Perry and it’s unlikely they come away with a Rebounding edge at all. They were so bad on Defense committing so many reach in fouls and over back fouls in paint vs. Auburn that the Tigers shot 44 FT’s. They allowed 17 Offensive Rebounds. They lose big that happens tonight. They have also been “ice cold” shooting 3-balls going only (9-26) the past two games. Like so many CBB teams anymore they are very “streaky” shooting bombs. But the talent is there for a hot night on any given night too. 


Mississippi State has beast Perry in middle but also has D J Stewart who is dynamic on Defense with in your face “D” for 40 minutes and coming off his best Offensive game with 20 points Saturday vs. Tenny. Can Hagans handle the non stop “in your face” Howland will have his troops defending him is a huge key. Can the Wildcats bigs of Price and Sestina slow down Perry and maybe get him into foul trouble? Perry had 4 fouls vs. Oklahoma in 1 point loss and finished with only 7 points and 6 rebounds. He was on floor only 20 minutes. His worst game of season and showed how important he is to the team. The good news for Bulldogs fans is they still could’ve won that game with Perry throwing in a huge clunker. 


Let’s first look at the “screaming stat” which is Kentucky has beaten Mississippi State 13 straight times. If there was ever a time for a streak to end it’s tonight. Bulldogs are clicking on all cylinders and Coach Cal for the Wildcats is simply scratching his head how “soft” and just “Lazy” his team has played. Kentucky is on off it’s worst loss of year Saturday and now at Home they should give a much better effort. But this once Home Court Gold Advantage is gone. They lost to Evansville (not even a top 300 team) at Home earlier in season so they are definitely beatable. The Bulldogs scored 58 points in the second half Saturday vs. Tennessee. Yes FIFTY EIGHT. They aren’t really a fast paced run and gun scoring type team but this is something that proves when needed they can shoot the ball and put some big points on the scoreboard if they need to. Look many teams simply can’t so if they fall behind a good opponent they just can’t really comeback. I’ve said 100x this season there are really NO ELITE teams like we’ve seen in past years. In fact to me it’s the weakest overall talent in Top 10 or 20 I’ve maybe ever seen. The name on the front of the jersey saying “KENTUCKY” isn’t really the Kentucky we’ve come to know over past 20 years. They are a really talented group but they aren’t deep and they play too soft to be a GREAT team. Mississippi State is a team just quietly lurking (to most fans, not to me) and one that has all the talent to knock off any top 20 team. Baylor is #1 in nation and one of the worst 3 point shooting teams in the Big 12 (not the country even, their own league only). The gap from #1 to even an unranked Mississippi State is now razor thin. Is it time for the Bulldogs to beat Kentucky in Lexington for the first time in over a decade and end a 13 game losing skid at same time? If both teams play how they have been playing the “W” will come to the Bulldogs tonight. It’s a super tough place to go on Road and Win, but if there was a time it’s super possible, tonight’s the night. The Bulldogs also really could use a Major “Signature” win for their resume that right now has in the “FIRST FOUR OUT” in the brackets. Bulldogs HC Howland fully knows the situation his team is now after losing two close games against Oklahoma and LSU that could’ve helped his resume greatly. He also know the entire rest of his schedule brings nobody in Top 25 to help enhance it with a win. This is the “biggest” game of the Bulldogs season. I’d be stunned if they come here and lay an egg. I’ve seen a Kentucky team that has to scratch and claw for 40 minutes, rarely just going wire to wire and manhandling any opponent. 

This game is the ESPN second game of the night at 9pm/est. If you want to see some really good hoops tonight, don’t miss this game. You will get a nice treat watching the Bulldogs Perry and nothing better to gauge how a team really is than when they face an elite opponent on the Road. It’s not a “MUST” win for the Bulldogs like some of the other teams we mentioned the past 2 weeks who really almost had to win that given night to stay alive, but this would really almost lock in a Big Dance invite with a road win in Lexington. Expect to see a fantastic back and forth game decided in the final minutes. Heck the way Kentucky loves Overtime that would be even more fun.

Enjoy the game tonight and may all your Wagers be “WINNING” ones and remember never bet what you can’t afford to lose. Bet smart and you will stay in this betting game a lot longer. 



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