NCAA BK

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 - 4:00 PM ET
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Mississippi-Kentucky Preview

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With a week off since its latest victory, Kentucky's John Calipari opened up its most recent practice to the public and tried to keep the mood light by taking questions from fans and including students in a shooting contest.

Mississippi's week wasn't quite as positive, as the Rebels suffered a humiliating loss in their last game and two players got into an argument afterward and had to be separated.

The top-ranked Wildcats look to take a step closer to securing the SEC title when they host the struggling Rebels on Saturday.

Kentucky (25-1, 11-0) has been off since a 69-63 win at Vanderbilt last Saturday, a major test for Calipari's team after it had won its previous five games by an average of 23.3 points. The Wildcats were down by two with 4:10 remaining before closing on an 8-0 run, winning their 17th in a row since losing at Indiana on Dec. 10.

"In every huddle, I kept saying this is great for us. It is what we need," Calipari said. "We got better."

Doron Lamb hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:18 left and finished with a game-high 16 points while Anthony Davis added 15 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.

Kentucky, trying to become the first team since the 2003 Wildcats to finish undefeated in SEC play, owns a three-game lead with five to play.

"I don't think we're going to lose that many games,'' said Davis, who averages team highs of 14.0 points and 9.9 rebounds and leads the nation in blocks at 4.9 per game.

Davis is one of four freshmen in Calipari's rotation that includes sophomores Lamb and Terrence Jones and senior Darius Miller. Despite being young, though, Kentucky has shown a lot of poise.

The Wildcats finished with six turnovers against Vanderbilt, the fourth time in seven games they had fewer than nine.

Kentucky, led by the 6-foot-10 Davis in the middle, has also been outstanding defensively. It leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 35.8 and is first in the SEC in scoring defense at 57.9 points per game.

With a week off between games, Calipari decided to make Wednesday's practice public with an eye on changing things up. The last time the Wildcats had a week off, they suffered their only loss after Calipari gave his team two days off.

"You say, 'Well what if this doesn't work?' I know the other doesn't work, because I lived it,'' he said.

Calipari is 48-0 at Rupp Arena, which Mississippi will visit for the first time since 2010. The Wildcats have won the last six meetings in Lexington since losing to the then-No. 18 Rebels in 1998, and Kentucky took the teams' most recent matchup 75-66 in the quarterfinals of last season's SEC tournament.

Ole Miss (15-10, 5-6) arrives in Lexington on the heels of a 102-76 home loss to Vanderbilt on Thursday, its third in four games. The Rebels fell behind by 25 points at halftime and coach Andy Kennedy and senior Terrance Henry received technical fouls.

It has been a difficult stretch for Henry, who leads Ole Miss with 11.5 points per game but has averaged 6.3 points and 30.4 percent shooting in his last three contests.

After Thursday's loss, teammates Reginald Buckner and Jelan Kendrick had to be separated by the coaching staff after an argument.

"I didn't anticipate that whipping we just took," Kennedy said. "But we've always talked about these swings. The reality is we've got to fly to Lexington and go play the No. 1 team in the nation. We've got to quickly put this behind us as best we can."

Ole Miss is 0-14 all-time against top-ranked teams, including 11 losses to Kentucky.

Tagged: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi

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