No. 12 Kentucky survives overtime scare, defeats Mississippi State 82-74


Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) dunks the ball during the UK vs. Mississippi State basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 82-74. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 12 Kentucky survived inside Rupp Arena on Tuesday night, defeating Mississippi State 82-74 in overtime.  

After leading by 15 points with 12 minutes to go, the Wildcats were in full panic mode down the stretch, as both Oscar Tshiebwe and Jacob Toppin were in the locker room with injuries while the Bulldogs trimmed down the lead possession by possession.  

Both Tshiebwe and Toppin would return to the game late in the second half but were not able to lead the Cats to a win in regulation, sending UK to its first overtime of the 2021-22 season.  

Kentucky had the ball in a tie-game with just over 20 seconds to go, as Sahvir Wheeler and Kellan Grady dribbled out the clock, resulting in a poor fadeaway attempt from Grady that would fall short. 

In overtime,Grady would carry the Cats home, scoring the first eight points of the period, including two monumental 3-pointers. Grady would finish with 18 points after making just four shots in regulation.  

“I got a lot of confidence in [Grady,]” UK head coach John Calipari said. “He’s shown that he can miss some shots, then come back and make shots.” 

Not to be outdone, Oscar Tshiebwewould provide a historic stat-line, scoring 21 points while hauling in 22 rebounds for UK.  

Tshiebwe is the first Wildcat to record at least 20 points and 20 rebounds since Mike Phillips in 1976.  

Iverson Molinar attempted to will Mississippi State to a win on Tuesday, scoring a game-high 30 points on 13-21 shooting. Molinar did it all for the Bulldogs, collecting three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks to go along with his huge scoring night.  

Kentucky was without starting guard TyTy Washington Jr, as the freshman missed Tuesday’s game due to an ankle injury he suffered against Auburn on Saturday, Jan. 22. 

Davion Mintz would start in place of Washington, but was unable to fill his shoes, scoring just four points on 2-9 shooting while racking up four personal fouls.  

Kentucky did not receive much production from its bench, either, as five players from the second rotation combined for just 12 points on Tuesday.  

Foul trouble would once again strike Kentucky in the first half, asSahvir Wheeler would pick up two personal fouls on back-to-back plays with under 14 minutes to go. 

Mintz would pick up a third foul towards the end of the half, shriveling the Kentucky backcourt that was without Washington while Wheeler was already on the bench.  

In steps Dontaie Allen.  

In 10 minutes in the first half, Allen would score five points, including a thunderous putback dunk that would elate Big Blue Nation. Allen would grab two rebounds in the half as well, picking up some of the slack left by his backcourt compatriots.  

Allen would play seven more minutes in the second half, missing two shots and recording just one rebound.  

“I was happy for [Allen,]” Calipari said. “He hadn’t played that much, and again, most of the stuff for me, comes down to defensively playing harder than the other guy.”  

Mississippi State would never get going in the first half, shooting 29.6 percent from the floor, making just eight of 27 attempts. Kentucky would counter with 53.6 percent shooting, making nearly double the number of shots as the Bulldogs, cashing in on 15 of 28 attempts.  

In what has become true Kentucky fashion this season, the wheels began to fall off the wagon in the second half.  

The Bulldogs would change their tune in the second 20 minutes, shooting 62 percent from the field. Kentucky would try and fight off the Mississippi State run, but 1-10 shooting from deep in the half led to multiple runouts that shrunk the UK lead.  

Molinar nearly won the game single-handedly for the Bulldogs, scoring State’s final 10 points in regulation.  

If not for the stone-cold shooting via Grady in overtime, Kentucky would have suffered a demoralizing defeat in front of the Kentucky faithful. Instead, UK adds another game into the win column and prepares for its final non-conference opponent of the season.  

“We needed this game,” Calipari said. “Now, we got to fight to get back in it.” 

The win improves UK’s record to 16-4 (6-2 SEC) in the regular season and is career win No. 800 for John Calipari. 

“I’ve been doing this a long time with a lot of players,” Calipari said. “To be in this job, with this fan base, I am blessed.” 

Kentucky will now head to Lawrence, Kansas for a matchup against the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks inside the historic Allen Fieldhouse, as a part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.  

“We’re going to Kansas, they’ve been in a bunch of close games,” Calipari said. “We had to be in this kind of game to understand like ‘okay, how do we finish it off?” 

Tip-off between the two blue bloods is set for 6 p.m. E.T as the Wildcats search for a marquee victory.