Wall, No. 2 Wildcats survive Bulldogs

BY foxsports • February 16, 2010

John Wall scored 18 points, including five in overtime, and came within two assists of a triple-double to lead No. 2 Kentucky to an 81-75 victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday night.

Wall's three-point play opened the scoring in overtime, then he added two free throws and blocked Dee Bost's layup attempt with 36 seconds left to push the Wildcats (25-1, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) to their sixth straight win and snap a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs (18-8, 6-5).

DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson both scored 19 points. Wall had 10 rebounds and eight assists. Cousins had 14 rebounds.

Kentucky trailed 67-60 with 3 minutes left, but scored the final seven points of regulation, the last two on Patterson's 15-foot jumper that tied it at 72.

Bost scored 22 points for Mississippi State, which was without suspended leading scorer Ravern Johnson.

The final minute of the game was marred when fans in the student section of a the record crowd of 10,788 threw bottles onto the court, almost hitting official Mike Kitts and coming close to Wall as he stood near the Kentucky bench.

"We made plays. We made shots. We made blocks. We did enough to win the game and now we're going to get out of here," Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Mississippi State used a 13-2 run to take its biggest lead, 67-60, with 3 minutes left. Jarvis Varnado, one of the nation's leading shot blockers, fouled out midway through the run at 5:08, but that didn't seem to slow down the Bulldogs. They outscored the Wildcats 6-2 over the next 2 minutes before Kentucky clamped down.

DeAndre Liggins hit a 3-pointer, then converted Cousins' block of Romero Osby into a layup in transition before Patterson tied it at 72.

Mississippi State's Barry Stewart missed the rim on a 3-point attempt as the shot clock expired with 6.2 seconds left and Liggins' jump shot from the baseline as time expired bounced off the rim.

Cousins, playing with four fouls, grabbed one of his seven offensive rebounds and hit a putback to give Kentucky a 72-70 lead with 3:02 left, but Osby answered with a leaning layup.

From there Wall took over. He wasn't a huge factor in the second half, but he was the difference in overtime. He beat Stewart for the three-point play, then hit one of two free throws in two trips to the line to give the Wildcats a 78-75 lead and just enough cushion for the win.

Bost had a chance at a layup to cut the lead to one, but he lost the ball in traffic.

"We made the plays we had to make," Calipari said. "It's hard to win on the road anywhere in college basketball."

Mississippi State dropped to 0-7 against No. 2-ranked teams and 2-15 against top five teams under coach Rick Stansbury, who was denied his 250th career victory.

The Bulldogs were vulnerable without Varnado, who picked up his third and fourth fouls in a 5-second span early in the second half. That left Stansbury with no option to but to go with a smaller lineup.

Cousins thrived with Varnado out, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds after halftime. He pushed his SEC-leading double-double mark to 16, snapping a tie with Varnado, who had just five points, three rebounds and two blocks.

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