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No. 1 Kentucky survives scare from Mississippi State

Feb 22, 2012 - 6:50 AM Starkville, MS (Sports Network) - Kentucky was knocked around by Mississippi State early, but the No. 1 Wildcats survived the test and overcame a 13-point halftime deficit en route to a 73-64 victory to secure at least a share of the SEC regular season title.

Darius Miller sparked the comeback by scoring all 12 of his points down the stretch. With just over six minutes remaining and Kentucky trailing 60-53, Miller was fouled by Jalen Steele while taking a three-pointer.

The subsequent free throws ignited a game-ending 20-4 run that lifted the Wildcats (27-1, 13-0 SEC) to their 19th straight victory.

"Darius Miller is the fiber that holds that team together. He is the key to them and was the total difference in the game tonight," Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and helped hold Dee Bost to one field goal in the second half.

Bost finished with 21 points, seven assists and four steals, but it wasn't enough to halt Mississippi State's (19-9, 6-7) three-game slide. Arnett Moultrie totaled 13 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.

The Bulldogs rode Bost in the first half, but the senior guard was kept in check after the break. His only make of the second half came with 6 1/2 minutes remaining -- a three-pointer over the outstretched arm of Anthony Davis.

The 60-53 lead quickly fell by the wayside. Miller was fouled at the other end to start Kentucky's rally, and Kidd-Gilchrist's putback of his own miss gave the Wildcats their first lead at 63-62 with 4:06 remaining.

Three more free throws by Kentucky, as well as two misses at the stripe from Renardo Sidney, preceded Davis' blocking Moultrie at the rim and laying in a finger-roll to push the lead to 68-62 with 2:10 on the clock.

Steele made a deep jumper for his 12th and 13th points before Miller answered with a three-pointer. Bost missed from long range at the other end to all but end the Bulldogs' upset bid.

"At the end there, it got away from them," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "We did some stuff down the stretch -- we had a couple of good blocks and defensive stops."

Mississippi State shot 32 percent in the second half after hitting at a 48 percent clip in the first half.

The Bulldogs rode the momentum of the Humphrey Coliseum crowd in the early going, scoring 12 of the game's first 14 points.

Terrence Jones quieted the raucous arena with a dunk, but the Bulldogs still played front-runner behind Bost, who totaled 16 points and five assists in the opening 20 minutes.

Steele's three-pointer in the final minute resulted in a 41-28 advantage at the break, but Kentucky responded with an 11-2 run over the first four minutes of the second half to stay within striking distance.

Game Notes

Davis finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his 12th double-double this season...Jones and Doron Lamb added 11 points apiece for Kentucky, which shot 50 percent in the second half...Sidney, who sat out Saturday's loss at Auburn with a back injury, scored just three points on 1-of-6 shooting from Mississippi State...This is the first week the Bulldogs weren't ranked in the top-25 since November.