TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Jodie Meeks scored 25 points and Patrick
Patterson had 15 points and 14 rebounds Thursday to help Kentucky
stop a four-game losing streak with a 71-58 victory over
Mississippi in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference
The Wildcats (20-12) advanced to Friday's quarterfinals against
No. 20 LSU and kept alive their hopes of extending their streak of
consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament to 18.
Mississippi (16-15) was outscored 35-20 in the second half, when
Meeks had 15 points and Kentucky shot 54 percent from the field
(14-of-26) and played stifling defense that forced the flustered
Rebels into 11 turnovers.
Terrico White led Mississippi with 21 points, but only had six
after halftime. David Huertas came off the bench to score 15 after
not starting because of a bone bruise in his left foot.
After losing four straight games to close the regular season,
Kentucky likely needs to win its 26th conference tournament title
this weekend to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the first
time since 1991.
Mississippi, which beat the Wildcats 85-80 at home on Jan. 27,
has never beaten Kentucky twice in the same season. The Rebels were
hoping a win or two in the conference tourney would enhance their
chances of receiving a spot in the NIT.
Meeks made 9 of 15 shots and was 6-for-7 from the foul line
after struggling against Mississippi in the earlier meeting.
Patterson was dominant inside, and the Wildcats also got increased
production out of its supporting cast.
Perry Stevenson had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Darius
Miller scored 12 off the bench and had two of Kentucky's 10 blocked
Mississippi led 38-36 at the half, however, an inability to take
care of the basketball and keep White involved in the offense
eventually took its toll. The SEC freshman of the year finished
7-for-13 after making five of his first seven shots and helping the
Rebels answer every time Kentucky threatened to take control early.
But beyond Huertas, Mississippi's leading scorer with an 18.2
average, White didn't get a help offensively from the rest of his
teammates - none of whom had more than six points.
The Rebels shot 32 percent from the field in the second half (7
of 22) and 43.8 percent (21 of 48) for the game.
-- Kentucky improves to 20-12 on the season while Ole Miss falls to 16-15.
-- Kentucky leads the series with Ole Miss 96-12 and is now 14-0 against the Rebels in the SEC Tournament.
-- The Wildcats are now 111-21overall in the SEC Tournament.
-- The Wildcats improve to 15-1 in first round games.
-- This was UK’s second meeting in the last four years against Ole Miss in the first round of the tournament. The Cats also defeated the Rebels in 2006.
--Billy Gillispie is now 138-83 in his career, 38-25 at Kentucky.
-- Kentucky will now face No. 1 seed LSU in the quarterfinal round of the tournament on Friday, March 13 at 1 p.m. EST.
Team game notes
-- The Wildcats used the starting combination of Ramon Harris, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson, Michael Porter and Perry Stevenson. UK is now 12-8 with that lineup.
-- UK won the opening tip. The Wildcats have won the opening tip 20 times this season.
-- Josh Harrellson was the first sub off the bench for Kentucky. It was his third time this season as the Wildcats’ first sub.
-- UK extended its string of 708 consecutive games making a three-pointer.
-- Kentucky’s 16-point lead in the second half was its largest lead since a 22-point margin against Tennessee in Lexington.
-- UK trailed 38-36 at the half. The Wildcats are now 3-8 when trailing at the half.
-- The Cats committed just 10 turnovers, the lowest since charting 10 vs. Ole Miss in Oxford on Jan. 27.
-- Four players scored in double-digits for the seventh time this season, including the third time against a SEC foe. UK is 5-2 when four players scored double figures.
--UK held Ole Miss to just 20 points in the second half, the lowest scoring output by an SEC opponent this season. It also marked the lowest output in the second half since West Virginia managed only 17 points against the Cats on Nov. 29.
--The Cats shot 46.7 percent in the game, including 53.8 percent in the second half. It marks UK’s highest shooting performance since netting.538 percent vs. LSU on Feb. 28.
--UK outscored the Rebels 48-22 in points in the paint and turned 18 Rebel turnovers into 23 points.
Individual game notes
#5 Ramon Harris
--Made his 49th career start
--Had seven rebounds and has now combined for 12 rebounds in last two games
#13 Michael Porter
--Made his 41st career start
--Tied season high with three steals
--Committed just one turnover for the second consecutive game
#21 Perry Stevenson
-- Made his 37th career start
-- Scored13 points, the most since tallying an SEC-high 16 points vs. Alabama on Jan. 24
--Grabbed eight rebounds, the most since pulling down eight vs. Florida on Feb. 10
#23 Jodie Meeks
-- Made his 38th career start
-- With a game-high 25 points, he now has 790 points this season, passing Jamal Mashburn (767) for the second-highest single season point total. Dan Issel is UK’s leader with 948 points in the 1969-70 season.
-- Hit double figures in scoring in the first half for the 18th time this season
-- Hit UK’s lone three-pointer in the game and now has at least one trey in 31 of 32 games this season.
-- Recorded his 21st 20-point game
-- Moved past Reggie Hanson and Wayne Turner up to No. 39 on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,182 career points
#54 Patrick Patterson
-- Made his 55th career start
-- After finishing the first half with eight rebounds, is averaging 7.3 rebounds in the first half over the last four games
-- Recorded his 13th double-double of the season, the 13th most in a season in UK history.
--Now ranks 15th on UK’s all-time double-double list with 19 in his career.
#1 Darius Miller
-- Scored 12 points, his fifth double-digit outing this season
--It’s the most points for the freshman since scoring a career-high vs. Tennessee on Feb. 21
T.White 7-13 3-4 21, M.White 3-4 0-0 6, Holloway 3-5 0-2 6, Graham 2-8 2-2 6, Bogan 0-1 0-0 0, Huertas 4-14 6-6 15, Henry 1-2 0-0 2, Cranston 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 21-48 11-14 58.
Meeks 9-15 6-7 25, Patterson 7-15 1-2 15, Stevenson 4-6 5-6 13, Harris 1-4 0-0 2, Porter 1-7 0-1 2, Miller 5-9 2-2 12, Galloway 0-1 0-0 0, Liggins 0-0 0-0 0, Harrellson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 28-60 14-18 71.
Halftime-Mississippi 38-36. 3-Point Goals-Mississippi 5-17 (T.White 4-9, Huertas 1-5, Bogan 0-1, Graham 0-2), Kentucky 1-10 (Meeks 1-4, Harrellson 0-1, Harris 0-1, Porter 0-4). Fouled Out-Cranston. Rebounds-Mississippi 28 (Huertas 7), Kentucky 35 (Patterson 14). Assists-Mississippi 7 (T.White 4), Kentucky 13 (Meeks, Porter 3). Total Fouls-Mississippi 18, Kentucky 15. A-NA.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)