January 12, 2015

Kentucky doesn't need to be reminded that each of its losses have come to unranked foes on days when it couldn't match its opponent's intensity.

The 20th-ranked Wildcats are determined not to let seemingly inferior teams push them around again.

They'll look to win a 32nd straight home game by remaining unbeaten against a Missouri team that comes to Lexington having lost four straight.

Kentucky (15-4, 5-2 SEC) picked up an early win over then-No. 5 Duke on Nov. 17 that boosted it to the No. 1 ranking, but its first loss two weeks later at UCLA began a free fall down the poll.

Losses to Ohio State and at LSU followed before the most recent setback, a 75-70 defeat Jan. 16 at Auburn, which is only 9-9.

The Wildcats, though, have bounced back with a pair of easy victories, winning 80-66 at Arkansas on Thursday before extending their home winning streak with Saturday's 76-57 rout of Vanderbilt.

Kentucky had its second-best shooting night of the season by hitting 55 percent from the floor while matching its fewest points allowed against the Commodores. Tyler Ulis had a career-high 24 points against the Razorbacks and 21 on Saturday, his sixth 20-point game over his last eight.

Freshman Jamal Murray, averaging a team-best 17.8 points, added 18.

"We've lost four games, and even games we didn't lose we were getting teams' best games," freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe said. "We're going over the scouting report of a good Missouri team and hopefully come out with a 'W'."

That's exactly what Kentucky has done in the other eight all-time meetings with the Tigers (8-11, 1-5). The Wildcats dominated both matchups last season, crushing Missouri 86-37 in Lexington before pulling away for a 69-53 road victory.

The Tigers haven't won since beating Auburn on Jan. 9, losing by an average of 14.5 points during the four-game skid. They're averaging the fewest points in conference play at 63.0, falling to that number following a 60-57 loss to Georgia last Wednesday and Saturday's 66-53 defeat at then-No. 10 Texas A&M.

None of that means the Wildcats are taking the Tigers lightly, though.

"We know we have to come ready for each team because any team can beat us at any moment," forward Marcus Lee said. "Our team knows that and we just have to stick with the plan."

Missouri is shooting 39.0 percent in SEC play, something it will have to improve with Kentucky holding its last three opponents to 36.9 percent from the field.

No Tiger averages more than freshman Kevin Puryear's 11.5 points, and Wes Clark finished with a team-high 12 against the Aggies. Clark is averaging 10.4 points while being extremely inconsistent, scoring at least 20 three times but also finishing in single digits in 11 games.

Clark went 4 of 14 from the field in the first meeting with Kentucky last season before recording a season-high 19 points in the second matchup.

Coach Kim Anderson is hoping his team at least can be competitive in this one.

"Watching (Kentucky) over the last couple of games, I've been really, really impressed," Anderson said. "They're getting to where they accept their roles and understand their roles. They went to Auburn and got beat and that probably woke them up a little bit."

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