Mississippi State basketball's slow start dooms Bulldogs against Kentucky wildcats

Mississippi State basketball falls short against Kentucky Wildcats after slow start. Tolu Smith's impressive performance was simply not enough for the Bulldogs.
Kentucky   s D.J. Wagner brings the ball up the court against Mississippi State   s Shakeel Moore
Kentucky s D.J. Wagner brings the ball up the court against Mississippi State s Shakeel Moore / Scott Utterback/Courier Journal / USA

Chris Jans' first trip to Rupp Arena didn't go well for the Mississippi State men's basketball team. While the Mississippi State Bulldogs attempted to make an incredible comeback in the second half, a sluggish start and monumental Kentucky lead to get this game going led to the Bulldogs losing on the road by a score of 90-77.

It's fair to say that the Mississippi State basketball team put up a pretty valiant comeback effort in the second half though. Tolu Smith and the Bulldogs, for a stretch, made things interesting in Lexington.

Smith led the Bulldogs with a season-high 26 points and he managed to put up that sort of scoring effort on an efficient 11 of 16 shooting. There were times where it was clear he was able to impose his will on this game. Add in the eight rebounds that he grabbed and he had a really solid performance against a really good team.

Arguably one of the best performances of his career.

Still, it wasn't enough to topple the No. 8 Wildcats on their home court in Rupp Arena.

Mississippi State basketball: Bulldogs fall short after slow start against Kentucky Wildcats

At halftime, Chris Jans and his Mississippi State basketball team found themselves trailing 47-29. Smith helped catalyze a fun comeback attempt and the Bulldogs went on a 14-2 run to get the second half started.

When it looked like Mississippi State was poised to make this matchup competitive against the highly ranked Wildcats, Kentucky pulled away.

The Bulldogs couldn't keep up with the likes of Antonio Reeves, who scored 27 points. Combine that with the fact that Aaron Bradshaw added 11 points, Tre Mitchell gave Kentucky 15 points, and Rob Dillingham scored 16 points and there was just too much offense for the Bulldogs to try to keep up with.

There was also a sizable difference in free throw shooting. MSU managed to get the line just 10 times and made six of those attempts. Meanwhile, Kentucky attempted 27 free throws and made 23.

That's a difference! A pretty big one.

And at the end of the day, the Mississippi State Bulldogs just didn't keep up. MSU is now 12-5 overall on the season while sitting at 1-3 in SEC play. Kentucky sits at 13-3 overall and is 3-1 against SEC foes.