Kentucky-Mississippi Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 29, 2013
Already off to its best start ever, Mississippi has a shot to make more history Tuesday night. The Rebels can tie a school record for consecutive SEC wins when they host Kentucky, which has won 13 of the last 15 meetings but has lost its last two visits to Oxford. No. 16 Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0), which has won nine in a row overall and is 11-0 at home, can win its seventh straight conference game for the first time since 1998. The Rebels barely earned their last one - a 63-61 victory at Auburn on Saturday - as Marshall Henderson hit two free throws with 7 seconds remaining. Mississippi had missed 13 of its previous 15 from the line in the game, and free throws haven't been a strength for the Rebels, who are 10th in the SEC at 67.4 percent. "We weren't very efficient from the foul line," coach Andy Kennedy said. "We were close to 50 percent (11 of 24) from the 3, but when you go 4 for 17 from the foul line and you can still find a way to grind out a road SEC win, I think it speaks to the character of this group and their will to win." Mississippi ranks fifth in the country with 80.3 points per game, but the Rebels were held to their third-lowest total of the season after matching their lowest two days earlier in a 62-56 win against Tennessee. Henderson scored 28 versus the Volunteers but was limited to 15 at Auburn on 4-of-15 shooting, including 4 of 13 from 3-point range. He's the SEC's leading scorer at 19.2 ppg, but LaDarius White led the team with a season-high 17 on Saturday. "White came in and was tremendous, gave us a huge pop by making shots," Kennedy said. "We did a better job of playing off the attention they were giving Marshall. We had some driving lanes. Again, if we make a foul shot, we're not sweating out that last possession." Kentucky (13-6, 4-2) is just 2-3 on the road, but it bounced back from a loss at Alabama with a 75-70 home win over LSU on Saturday. The Wildcats shot 51.9 percent from the floor, with freshman Alex Poythress leading the way and posting his first double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Poythress had totaled 18 points and 12 rebounds over his previous two games. Fellow freshman Nerlens Noel had six blocks - his fifth consecutive game with at least that many - to lead a defense that held its third straight opponent under 40 percent shooting. Noel's 4.3 blocks per game rank second in the country. Seven-foot freshman Willie Cauley-Stein has missed three games in a row after undergoing minor surgery on his left knee, but he could return Tuesday. Cauley-Stein is averaging 7.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. "The word questionable? I don't know," coach John Calipari said. "He'll probably try to convince me he's ready, so we'll see." The Wildcats' two recent losses at Ole Miss have been decided by a combined seven points. They were ranked No. 1 when they beat the Rebels 77-62 at home in the only meeting last season. This is the first time these programs will square off with the Rebels ranked and Kentucky outside the Top 25 since Jan. 20, 2001, when then-No. 21 Ole Miss won 65-55 at home.
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