The way UK head coach John Calipari sees it, his team’s struggles aren’t all that unusual this time of year.
“Other than the top six or seven teams, everyone’s had a lull in their schedule,” Calipari said. “We’ve hit ours. Now we’ve got to burst through it.”
That opportunity will come Tuesday for UK (17-7, 5-5 Southeastern Conference) as it takes on a talented, but struggling as well, Mississippi State (13-11, 5-5 SEC).
Mississippi State features Renardo Sidney, averaging 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds, and Dee Bost, averaging 17.7 points and 5.2 assists. Also featured for the Bulldogs is Ravern Johnson, who averages 17 points and shoots three-pointers on more than half his attempts.
And if UK expected to get any inside information from transfer Twany Beckham, who used to play at Mississippi State, it hasn’t come yet, Jarrod Polson said.
“There’s a sense of urgency about this game,” Calipari said. “The scary part is it’s at home, so you think (you’re fine because) they’re on the road. Then this will be their breakout party.”
UK’s Darius Miller, who injured his leg against Vanderbilt and was able to return to the game only briefly, is questionable to play.
“I don’t have any idea,” Calipari said on his status.
If Miller has to miss the game, or is limited, it constricts UK’s already short bench even more.
“He’s a guy that plays a lot of minutes,” Terrence Jones said. “He’s a big impact on our team.”
What Mississippi State does well
Avoid fouling (sending opponents to the line at a 26.8 percent rate, 10th lowest in the nation).
What Mississippi State does not do well: Offensive rebound (29 percent of available rebounds) and create turnovers (16.8 percent turnover rate).