Mississippi State Bulldogs

Fox leads No. 5 Kentucky over Mississippi State 88-81

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Malik Monk, Kentucky’s leading scorer, was struggling and so was star guard Isaiah Briscoe. So when the Wildcats needed some clutch baskets late, coach John Calipari turned to freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox and gave him some simple instructions.

“We just said, `Here you go De’Aaron, go and do your thing,”‘ Calipari said.

Fox responded with two clutch baskets on drives to the basket in the final minutes to thwart a final Mississippi State rally and lead the fifth-ranked Wildcats over the Bulldogs 88-81 on Tuesday night.

Fox finished with 21 points while Monk had 14. Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis both scored 13 points and Briscoe added 12.

“A lot of teams have a go-to person, but we don’t have that right now,” Fox said. “So whoever has the hot hand that game is the one that does it.”

Kentucky (16-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) looked like it would cruise to the win after building a 66-49 lead midway through the second half, but Mississippi State responded with 13 straight points to make things interesting down the stretch.

Calipari said he was frustrated with his team’s inattention to detail. He was especially irritated when Monk got a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk on an alley-oop pass.

“We go into the AAU mode when we’re playing all freshmen and sophomores,” Calipari said. “There’s a point in the game where they just think `OK, watch this.’

“You’re never going to be that team if that’s what your mindset is.”

In the end, the Wildcats were too potent offensively. The 6-foot-3 Fox was especially impressive, shooting 8 of 15 from the field and adding five rebounds and five assists.

Kentucky also got plenty of production from its forwards. Willis scored all 13 of his points in the first half, stepping out to make three 3-pointers. Gabriel was 5 of 5 from the field, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range.

Mississippi State (12-5, 3-2) was led by freshman Lamar Peters, who scored a career-high 25 points. Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 15 points and Mario Kegler added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Mississippi State shot 32 of 59 (54.2 percent) from the field. The Bulldogs were hurt by 19 turnovers.

“You can’t knock Kentucky – they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Peters said. “But when you look at the talent on our team, I feel like we’re one of the best teams in the country, too. We can hang with anybody. And it’s frustrating because we knew we could have won that game.”

It was an emotional game that featured four technical fouls – two on each team.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats continue to put up big numbers on offense, scoring at least 87 points for the sixth straight game. Monk, who leads the team at nearly 22 points per game, wasn’t at his best on Tuesday, but his teammates were more than capable of picking up the slack.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were able to hang with one of the nation’s best teams for most of the game, but an inability to stop Kentucky on the defensive end proved costly.

QUITE AN ATMOSPHERE

Mississippi State announced a crowd of 9,768, which was its largest of the season. The traffic was so bad before the game outside Humphrey Coliseum that the Bulldogs’ pep band barely made it to their seats on time because its bus was stuck on the road.

UP NEXT

Kentucky: The Wildcats return home to face No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs travel to face Tennessee on Saturday.

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More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 .

Video: Mississippi State falls to ETSU on last-second tip-in

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Mississippi State welcomed a Southern Conference program into their building Wednesday night and took an ‘L.’

The Bulldogs lost to East Tennessee State, 67-65, when the Buccaneers’ Hanner Mosquera-Perea tipped in the game-winning bucket with 1.4 seconds remaining.

Steve Forbes’ ETSU squad now sits 8-2 with a win over an SEC team and losses only against UNC-Wilmington and Dayton on the season with a matchup against Tennessee still on the schedule for next week ahead of league play.

The story here, though, may be Ben Howland’s Bulldogs suffering a loss to the likes of ETSU, at home no less. Mississippi State already lost in Starkville to Lehigh this season and Central Florida on a neutral. They’ve fallen well outside the KenPom top-100.

It’s still early, but at this point it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see MSU scrapping with Missouri to stay out of the bottom of the SEC.

Mississippi State freshman loses NCAA appeal

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Mississippi State freshman Abdul Ado will be ineligible to play this season after his appeal was denied by the NCAA, the school announced Tuesday.

“It’s disappointing for Abdul,” Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said, according to the Clarion-Ledger. “It’s disappointing for our team and our players.”

The 6-foot-11 center from Nigeria will be allowed to practice with Mississippi State at the end of the first semester if he completed nine credits. He won’t, however, be eligible to compete until the 2017-18 season, when he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

“There are good things ahead for Abdul and this program,” Howland said. “I’m excited about that. I’m disappointed it’s not going to be this year.”

Ado was a consensus top-150 player in the 2016 class.

Mississippi State opened the season with a 78-74 win over Norfolk State last week. The Bulldogs will participate in the Charleston Classic this week, starting with a matchup Thursday against Central Florida.

Mississippi State’s Newman declaring for NBA draft

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Mississippi State freshman Malik Newman will enter his name in the NBA draft, but does not plan to immediately hire an agent, he announced Monday.

“I’m still leaving the option open that if I don’t hear the news that I would like to hear, I will be attending Mississippi State again,” he told the Clarion-Ledger.

That unwelcome news would be a second-round draft grade after Newman makes the rounds with workouts and potentially the draft combine. He’s currently projected as a second-rounder by DraftExpress.com.

Newman, a former McDonald’s All-American, averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent from 3-point range during a freshman season that largely didn’t play out to expectations as Mississippi went 14-17.

He played in 29 of the Bulldogs’ 31 games, with turf toe one among a number of nagging injuries he dealt with throughout the year.

While the Bulldogs would certainly like to see Newman back in the fold next year, if he should decide to stay in the draft past the May 25th deadline, Ben Howland won’t be without reinforcements. His incoming 2016 class has more than enough firepower with six recruits signed, four of which are top-100 talents. Mississippi State also a nice core of I.J. Ready and Quandary Weatherspoon in place to help Howland’s large and highly-touted class acclimate, whether or not Newman leaves Starkville.

Mississippi State lands another four-star 2016 prospect

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Mississippi State continues to be one of the big stories in recruiting the Class of 2016 as Ben Howland and the Bulldogs landed four-star big man Abdulhakim Ado on Monday night, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The addition of the 6-foot-10 Ado means that Howland has overhauled the Mississippi State roster very quickly as Ado becomes the sixth four-star prospect to commit to the Bulldogs in the 2016 class. Regarded as the No. 73 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Ado is a defensive specialist and one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the national class. While Howland was quick to add a lot of talented guards early in his 2016 pursuits, adding Ado and fellow four-star big man Schnider Herard the last few weeks helps stabilize the future front court for Mississippi State.

Ado and Herard are joined by four-star wing Mario Kegler, as well as four-star guards Tyson Carter, Lamar Peters and Eli Wright. Howland and his staff have put together a no-brainer top-10 national recruiting class during his first full season of recruiting at the SEC program and this class certainly sends notice that Howland is still a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.

Four-star wing Mario Kegler commits to Mississippi State

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Mississippi State has yet to officially play a game with head coach Ben Howland at the helm, but his arrival in Starkville continues to pay dividends on the recruiting trail. Wednesday afternoon the Bulldogs received another important commitment, as 6-foot-7 four-star wing Mario Kegler announced at Oak Hill Academy that he’ll play his college basketball at Mississippi State.

Kegler, a native of Mississippi, was also considering Indiana and Maryland but ultimately decided that the chance to play in his home state was too much to pass up. Kegler is ranked 29th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, and he’s the fifth commitment in the class for Mississippi State.

It’s a class that checks off all of the boxes from a need standpoint. Four-star guard Tyson Carter and Lamar Peters are players expected to have an immediate impact, and the same goes for wings Kegler and Eli Wright and big man Schnider Herard. This is a highly talented group for a program that hasn’t experienced much success since the departure of Rick Stansbury, which goes to show the impact that Howland and his staff have had on the program since their arrival in the spring.

In addition to the five recruits the Bulldogs will add Louisiana Tech transfer Xavian Stapleton, who’s also rehabbing from a torn ACL while sitting out this season. Mississippi State will lose four seniors at the end of the 2014-15 season, and many expect elite freshman guard Malik Newman to head to the NBA after just one season.

Mississippi State is also a finalist for talented power forward De’Ron Davis, who’s scheduled to announce his college decision on Thursday, and Abdulhakim Ado is another interior prospect they’re currently pursuing.