LEXINGTON, Ky. PJ Washington scored 21 points, Tyler Herro added 18 and made big 3-pointers down the stretch as No. 8 Kentucky pulled away from No. 22 Mississippi State 76-55 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
The Wildcats (15-3, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) led for all but the early minutes, but had to survive some rough stretches that allowed the Bulldogs (14-4, 2-3) to get within 41-39 with 13:39 remaining. Kentucky answered with scoring 18 of the next 25 points over the next 6:50, helped by consecutive 3s by Immanuel Quickley and Washington, for a double-digit advantage it maintained.
Washington was 9 of 15 from the field with three 3s and grabbed six rebounds. Herro made all three from long range and all five free throws to follow his 20-point performance at Auburn. Reid Travis grabbed 12 rebounds as the Wildcats won the glass 43-36 and won the second of three consecutive Top-25 matchups. No. 9 Kansas is next on Saturday.
Kentucky also succeeded in holding MSU's potent perimeter game to just 3 of 20 from behind the arc after entering the contest second in the SEC at 38 percent.
Quinndary Weatherspoon had 19 points and Tyson Carter 11 for the Bulldogs, who made just 19 of 61 from the field (31 percent) in their first game against a ranked foe this season.
The Wildcats should remain in the Top 10 after clearing the first of two ranked opponents this week. The Bulldogs will need to beat Auburn on Saturday to remain ranked.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs brought in balanced offense but struggled despite a bunch of opportunities, especially from long range. Forward and Kentucky native Aric Holman missed his only two attempts in 20 minutes. MSU also committed 15 turnovers leading to 17 Kentucky points.
Kentucky: The Wildcats offset strong stretches with sloppy moments that allowed MSU to get close. But they slowly regrouped to close with a flourish and remain a game within the unbeaten leaders in the SEC.
Mississippi State hosts No. 16 Auburn in SEC play on Saturday.
Kentucky hosts No. 9 Kansas on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.