Thanks in large part to phenom Anthony Davis, Kentucky is on the verge of clinching at least a share of its 45th SEC regular-season title and has a chance to tie the longest win streak in coach John Calipari's tenure.
Davis will face another one of the conference's top forwards Tuesday night when the top-ranked Wildcats visit Arnett Moultrie and struggling Mississippi State and Arnett Moultrie.
Davis, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Chicago, has already smashed Kentucky's single-season record for blocked shots with 131, and is averaging team highs of 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.
"He's a terrific player in every sense," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said of Davis. "Our challenges with him is not just what he presents defensively, it's what he presents offensively."
Davis had 10 points, six rebounds, and four blocks and shot 4 of 5 on Saturday to help Kentucky earn its 18th straight win, 77-62 victory over Mississippi. With a victory Tuesday, the Wildcats can help match the 19 straight that Calipari's Kentucky team won to open 2009-10.
A victory or a Florida loss to Auburn on Tuesday will also allow Kentucky (26-1, 12-0) to clinch a share of the conference title. If both occur, the Wildcats will win the SEC crown outright.
They appear to have a good chance to take care of their end of the bargain against Mississippi State (19-8, 6-6), which has dropped three straight. The Bulldogs fell 65-55 at Auburn on Saturday as Moultrie was one of only two players in double figures.
The 6-foot-11 junior had 16 points and 11 rebounds but his team shot 35.2 percent - its second-worst mark of the season. Senior guard Dee Bost had 11 points but shot 2 of 9 from the floor, while freshman Rodney Hood missed nine of 12 attempts and finished with nine points.
Moultrie, a transfer from UTEP, leads the SEC with 10.8 rebounds per game and 15 double-doubles, and his 16.5 scoring average ranks fourth in the league - just ahead of Bost at 15.8.
"He's going to be a handful, and it's not going to be one guy guarding him," Calipari said of Moultrie. "It's going to be our team having to guard him. The stuff that I've watched, he's as good as anyone in our league. He's that talented so it'll be a challenge for us."
Moultrie could use some help from frontcourt teammate Renardo Sidney, but the junior's status is unknown because of back spasms that kept him out of Saturday's loss.
Sidney was one of five Bulldogs to score in last season's lone matchup with Kentucky, an 85-79 loss at Rupp Arena. Doron Lamb had 20 points for the Wildcats and Terrence Jones added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Kentucky needed overtime to win the previous two meetings between these teams, including an 81-75 victory in Starkville on Feb. 16, 2010. The last seven games in the series have been decided by an average of 4.7 points, with the Wildcats holding a 4-3 edge.
Kentucky leads the all-time series 87-20. The Wildcats are seeking their seventh straight road win overall.
Mississippi State, which was ranked 20th two weeks ago before falling out of the Top 25, had won 13 in a row at home before an overtime loss to Georgia on Feb. 11.
- Mississippi State
- John Calipari