LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Nick Richards scored a career-high 27 points, Immanuel Quickley added 21 and No. 15 Kentucky beat Mississippi State 80-72 on Tuesday night for its 14th consecutive victory over the Bulldogs.
Seeking to regroup after last weekend's 75-66 loss at No. 11 Auburn, the Wildcats (17-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) never trailed and led by as many as 14 midway through the second half. They were quicker and more physical against the Bulldogs, outscoring them 38-34 in the paint and drawing fouls. They made 31 of 36 from the line.
The Bulldogs (14-8, 5-4 SEC) got within 64-59 with 2:36 remaining, but Richards and Quickley closed the victory by combining to make 14 free throws. The Wildcats shot 44% from the field.
After totaling just seven points and seven rebounds on Saturday, Richards bounced back big by making 7 of 10 from the field and grabbing 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 junior also made 13 of 15 free throws.
Quickley made 14 from the line to offset 3-of-11 shooting. EJ Montgomery added 12 points to score in double figures for the first time in four games and had eight rebounds, his highest total since grabbing 10 against Utah in December.
D.J. Stewart Jr. and Robert Woodard II each had 15 points and Reggie Perry 14 points for Mississippi State, which outrebounded Kentucky 40-37 but shot just 31%. The Bulldogs lost for just the second time in seven games.
Mississippi State: Perry had averaged 20.3 points and 11 rebounds in his previous 10 games, but he struggled against Kentucky at both ends for most of the night. Likewise for his teammates, who didn't string together many baskets until late.
Kentucky: The Wildcats had room for improvement in several phases and were consistent on both ends. Their only weakness was 1-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, which didn't matter because they were strong inside the line.
Mississippi State hosts last-place Vanderbilt on Saturday, aiming to keep the Commodores winless in SEC play.
Kentucky visits border rival Tennessee on Saturday, looking to end a two-game slide against the Volunteers.