Harrow, Cats rout Mississippi State



By David Schuh | @DSchuhKernel

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Sophomore point guard Ryan Harrow hasn’t always been the player head coach John Calipari had hoped he would be this season.

Through the ups and downs of the season, Harrow’s play has typically been an accurate barometer for the team’s performance.

On Wednesday night, he played maybe his best all-around game, as UK (20-8, 11-4 SEC) rolled over Mississippi State, 85-55, for its third straight victory.

Harrow finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to pace the Cats past an overmatched MSU team.

“Ryan is doing his job and it makes it easier on everybody on the team,” Calipari said. “They’re holding each other accountable more.”

The Cats controlled the game from the opening possession — a one-handed tip-dunk by freshman forward Alex Poythress. They opened a double-digit lead eight minutes into the game and used a 13-0 run to break it open midway through the half.

The Cats took a 42-19 lead into the break, holding MSU to just 23 percent shooting.

Poythress scored 13 of his 16 in the first half, also finishing with a team-high eight rebounds.

“He has made unbelievable strides,” Calipari said. “He is way beyond where he’s been with his effort, with his ability, with his toughness. … All that stuff has improved immensely. It’s good to see.”

The second half began, and continued, much like the first. Freshman guard Archie Goodwin scored five points in the first minute and a half, part of an 8-0 run out of the break to open up a 28-point lead.

The lead lingered around 30 points for the rest of the game, peaking at 35.

Thirteen of Harrow’s 19 points came in the second half. He finished 6-9 from the field, his second-highest field goal percentage of the season.

“You can tell he is maturing and trying to figure things out,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “I think he is a good basketball player and I think he just kind of had to find his way with all the scoring and all the different opportunities you have here at Kentucky.”

Graduate student Julius Mays had 11 points and four assists before taking an elbow above his left eye midway through the second half. He didn’t return to the game after going to the locker room, where Calipari said he received four stitches.

Harrow had a two-game stretch two weeks ago where, between points and assists, he accounted for a total of two points.

Since then, he’s averaging 15.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. If he continues that for the rest of the season, the Cats could find themselves playing their best basketball in March.

“I think my play (has made the difference), playing more aggressive and being more assertive on the floor,” Harrow said of the turnaround. “When I play well it helps the team out a lot.”