The No. 1 team in college basketball will be on display in the Humphrey Coliseum tonight.
It will be an opportunity for the Mississippi State Bulldogs to upset the team with that distinction, the Kentucky Wildcats, during the Super Tuesday showdown on ESPN. Tipoff for the scheduled "white out" game is set for 8 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs, who are 19-8 overall and 6-6 in the Southeatern Conference, are riding a three-game losing streak while the Wildcats (26-1) are perfect at 12-0 in conference play this season.
However, you can throw the records out when these teams get together because the last seven meetings the outcome has been decided by nine points or less with the average margin of victory being 4.9 points.
"When you're playing Kentucky, you have to hit on all cylinders," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury who is 4-12 against the Wildcats. “You've got to do some things better than you're capable of doing, and darn sure better than you've done them to have any kind of a chance at all.
"You hope Kentucky doesn't play their best. If Kentucky plays their best, I'm not so sure there's anyone, anywhere who has a chance against them."
Kentucky has an 18-game win streak on the line while the Bulldogs dropped out of the Top 25 following the 65-55 setback at Auburn on Saturday.
While the offense for the Wildcats has been impressive, scoring 77.8 points per game, it is their defense that leads the nation. Kentucky is holding opponents to just 36.2 percent shooting from the floor, tops in the NCAA.
"I've seen a lot of Kentucky teams in my time, and this may be one of the best teams I've seen, and (Rick) Pitino had some good teams," Stansbury said.
Freshman forward Anthony Davis is in the process of shattering the SEC freshman blocks record with 131 rejections while averaging 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
“Kentucky does two things,” Stansbury said. “They bring out the best in you or they bring out the worst in you. That’s what you have to be ready for. You have to be at your best to have any kind of chance at all against this Kentucky team, for sure. Of all the Kentucky teams I’ve seen through the years, this may be as good as any team I’ve seen.”
Mississippi State will turn to the duo of junior forward Arnett Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost.
Moultrie continues to lead MSU in scoring (16.5), while his 10.8 rebounds and 15 double-doubles set the tone in league play. Against Auburn on Saturday, he had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“The guards are good too, though,” said Kentucky head coach John Calipari. “Dee Bost is good. You’ve got guys that could go for 30 (points). You’ve got five of them that could go for 30. All the sudden, you’re not just, ‘Stop this guy.’ You can’t do it that way. You’ve got to play basketball and try to make it difficult for them.”