Kentucky seeks fresh SEC start against Mississippi State

·2 min read

Kentucky is making history.

But it's in a bad way.

The Wildcats are 1-6 as they prepare to open SEC play against Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkville, Miss. They are off to their worst start since the 1926-27 season, and their six-game losing streak is tied for the second-longest in school history.

"None of us would have imagined this," said Davion Mintz, who's averaging 10.3 points per game. "At this point, we kind of throw away our record in our minds and we just go out there and play basketball."

Kentucky, which saw its scheduled conference opener at South Carolina on Wednesday postponed because of COVID issues in the Gamecocks' program, showed improvement in its last game -- a 62-59 loss at Louisville on Dec. 26.

"Losing stinks," coach John Calipari said. "We are not the team we need to be, but we are getting closer."

The Wildcats, who defeated Morehead State in their season opener, have lost to Richmond, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Louisville.

"This was the stupidest schedule I've ever put together," Calipari said. "We should've played games up front that we had a chance to win. ... I don't believe it's over. We haven't played a league game yet."

Mississippi State (6-3) has played a league game, defeating Georgia 83-73 in its SEC opener Wednesday night in Athens, Ga.

"Any time you win a game in the SEC, it's special," Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said. "It is hard to do. This league is so tough, so many good players, so well-coached."

Iverson Molinar and Deivon Smith had career-highs of 24 and 13 points, respectively, as Mississippi State never trailed in the game.

Smith scored all of his points during the first half, in which the Bulldogs led by as many as 20 points before taking a 14-point lead into halftime. Molinar had 16 of his points in the second half as the lead never fell below 10 points.

"Toughness, defense and just playing together -- I think that's something we really did in the second half," Molinar said. "We played together, and we shared the ball a little bit more."

Mississippi State made a season-high 12 3-pointers on 27 attempts (44.4 percent).

The game against Kentucky starts a stretch of five home games out of six for the Bulldogs.

--Field Level Media