Cats Hang on at the Hump to Beat Mississippi State, 71-68

PJ Washington scored 23 points, Keldon Johnson added 13 and No. 5 Kentucky held on to beat Mississippi State 71-67 on Saturday.

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (UK Athletics) – PJ Washington scored 23 points, Keldon Johnson added 13 and No. 5 Kentucky held on to beat Mississippi State 71-67 on Saturday.

Kentucky (20-3, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) has won 10 straight games since losing to Alabama in its conference opener on Jan. 5. The Wildcats had to work for this one after an 18-point lead dwindled to one possession with 1:18 left, but the Bulldogs weren’t able to score again.

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The Wildcats looked like they might cruise to the win after Washington hit a 3-pointer early in the second half to give them a 49-31 lead. But Mississippi State responded with a huge run to pull within 51-50 on a pair of free throws by Quinndary Weatherspoon with 8:41 left.

After Washington and Ashton Hagans hit back-to-back layups to squash the Bulldogs’ momentum, but Weatherspoon made a free throw to cut Kentucky’s advantage to 70-67 with 1:18 left.

Mississippi State (16-7, 4-6) led 17-15 midway through the first half, but Tyler Herro nailed a contested 3-pointer to give Kentucky the lead. The Wildcats never trailed again, outscoring the Bulldogs 25-8 over the rest of the first half for a 40-25 halftime advantage.

Lamar Peters led the Bulldogs with 16 points. Weatherspoon added 14.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats’ defense has been phenomenal over the past few weeks, but they gave up 42 points in the second half. Washington scored at least 20 points for the fifth time in six games.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have now lost 13 straight games to Kentucky dating to 2009. Mississippi State still has a legitimate path to the NCAA Tournament thanks to good wins during nonconference play, but the Bulldogs need some conference wins in a hurry. Tuesday’s home game against Alabama is a big one.

UP NEXT

Kentucky returns home to face LSU on Tuesday.

Mississippi State wraps up a three-game homestand against Alabama on Tuesday.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.