No. 14 Mississippi State hoped having an open date over the weekend would leave the team rested for a pivotal showdown against 16th-ranked Kentucky.
Instead, the Bulldogs’ offense snoozed through Thursday’s game against the Wildcats in an 83-60 defeat, their largest home loss in three years.
“You have to take your hat off to Kentucky, they came in and played like they had something to prove,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. “I thought they played with an edge, which is what we’ve talked about our group trying to do. I thought they really took the fight to us tonight and obviously outplayed us in every facet.”
It was the Bulldogs’ 10th-straight loss to UK and the worst loss since a 48-point defeat against Texas A&M on Jan. 24, 2013. The loss drops State (21-6, 8-5 SEC) to third in the SEC standings.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had people walking out of the Hump with a lot of time left and I wanted to go with them,” Schaefer said. “I’m embarrassed and very disappointed. I’m disappointed for our fans that we’ve worked so hard to earn and as the head coach, I have to wear the responsibility of a night like tonight.”
Mississippi State fell behind by 10 less than five minutes into the game and at one point missed 10 straight shots in the first half. But the Bulldogs battled back to cut the deficit to two with 2:25 remaining before halftime.
However, Kentucky closed on a 7-2 run to take a 37-30 lead into the locker room.
“They were aggressive from the tip, got us on our heels and we never really got off of them,” Schaefer said.
The Wildcats went on to outscore MSU 22-10 in the third quarter as Maci Morris got hot, scoring 14 of her game-high 17-points in the second half.
UK shot 44.8 percent from the field and outrebounded the Bulldogs 49-34.
Makayla Epps added 16 points, Taylor Murray scored 13 and Alexis Jennings chipped in 12 as the Wildcats improved to 18-6 on the year and 7-6 in conference play.
State’s starting five was limited to just 15 points on 6 of 26 shooting. The Bulldogs’ bench accounted for 45 of their points with Breanna Richardson scoring 13 and Kayla Nevitt adding 12.
Having lost two straight, Mississippi State travels to Ole Miss Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.