No. 6 Kentucky, Ole Miss both look to regroup
No. 6 Kentucky and Ole Miss have both experienced some slippage recently.
Both will try to get back on track and strengthen their positioning for the upcoming SEC Tournament when they meet Tuesday night in Oxford, Miss.
The Wildcats (24-5, 13-3) are coming off their most lopsided SEC loss, a 71-52 setback at then-No. 7 Tennessee on Saturday. PJ Washington, who was plagued by first-half foul trouble, was the only Kentucky player to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points.
The Wildcats shot just 31.8 percent from the field (14 of 44), including 26.3 percent (5 of 19) on 3-pointers. They committed 17 turnovers, leading to 18 Vols points, while scoring eight points on five Tennessee turnovers. Additionally, Tennessee outscored Kentucky 28-10 in the paint.
The loss was Kentucky's second in its last six games, but coach John Calipari dismissed the notion that his team might be regressing, even with starting forward Reid Travis sidelined by a knee injury. Travis is questionable for Tuesday's game.
"This is one game," Calipari said. "For us to win without Reid, we were going to have to play one of our best games in the past 10 years.
"They beat us. There are no excuses. We got beat every which way. Our young kids played like freshmen. They played like a deer in the headlights. This is college basketball. When you are playing freshman and sophomores, you have games like this."
The Wildcats had beaten the Volunteers, 86-69, just two weeks earlier at Rupp Arena in a bounce-back performance after a two-point home loss to LSU four days earlier.
"There are no excuses, but I'm sure they had revenge on their mind," Kentucky freshman guard Immanuel Quickley said. "I think any team that plays us is going to be ready to play us, just because we are Kentucky. We are always going to have that target on our back. We just really didn't match their energy."
There's no doubt that the Rebels will also have an energized crowd backing them with the Wildcats in town. It's Ole Miss' last home game of the season, so the team will honor seniors Terence Davis, Bruce Stevens and D.C. Davis.
While Kentucky sits in third place in the SEC, one game behind LSU and Tennessee, Ole Miss (19-10, 9-7) is stuck in a logjam. The Rebels are in a five-way tie for fourth after losing back-to-back games and three of four.
In Saturday's 74-73 loss to Arkansas, Breein Tyree led Ole Miss with 20 points, scoring 17 in the second half, which included 13 of his team's final 15 points. Ole Miss shot 53.7 percent from the floor for its highest percentage in an SEC game this season, but it made just 27.3 percent (6 of 22) of its 3-pointers.
"We didn't shoot good threes," Rebels coach Kermit Davis told 247sports.com. "I don't think we ran great offense. I thought (Tyree) kind of took the game over and made some tough shots.
"At the end, it comes down to the defensive end. We shoot 57 percent in the second half and lose. We give up 55 percent for the game. It's our inability to sit down and get stops when you totally have to get stops."
Ole Miss has been playing games to the wire of late, as its last three games have been decided by a total of four points.
Its loss to Arkansas came after the Razorbacks' Jalen Harris made a basket with 5.9 seconds left for the 21st and final lead change of the game. That came three days after a 73-71 home loss to Tennessee. The Rebels had a 72-71 home victory against Georgia on Feb. 23.
"We've been in two one-possession games," Davis said. "If we (get stops at the end of the last two games), we're sitting here and everybody's saying, 'Boy, this team is playing great.' Two possessions. Kind of been the basketball gods the last four or five days against us."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 4, 2019