January 01, 2016

Kentucky is fresh off a win over its biggest rival, but it's Mississippi entering SEC play on a seven-game winning streak.

The competition the Rebels faced might not have prepared them for Saturday night's game at Rupp Arena against the No. 10 Wildcats, who are seeking their 22nd straight conference victory - a run that began with last season's SEC opener against Ole Miss.

Kentucky (10-2) is coming off a 75-73 home win over then-No. 16 Louisville last Saturday behind a career high-matching 21 points and eight assists from Tyler Ulis.

The guard had his best shooting effort of the season, going 7 of 12 and 4 of 7 from 3-point range after hitting 26.7 percent of his shots over the previous four games. He drained a key 3 in the final five minutes after Louisville got within two.

"He's not afraid to miss," coach John Calipari said. "I've said to all these guys, the guys that make game winners or make big plays that are like just the knife in the back, they're not afraid to miss that shot. ... And that's Tyler."

The performance paced an 11-for-23 team mark from long range, and the Wildcats have had their top two 3-point shooting games consecutively, combining with a 9-for-19 mark in a 74-67 loss to Ohio State on Dec. 19 to make 47.6 percent.

The win over the Cardinals came with top scorer Jamal Murray having an off night (3 of 14) and Isaiah Briscoe sidelined by an ankle injury. Dominique Hawkins made the most of a career-high 26 minutes with a career-best 13 points.

"For me to have the game I did today, it was a blessing. I didn't realize I had that many points," Hawkins said. "I was just really confident. Every shot that went up, I felt it was going in."

Briscoe has returned to practice and is expected to face the Rebels.

The Wildcats have won 28 straight home games by an average of 21.5 points and was 21-0 in the SEC last season, including the conference tournament. Mississippi (10-2) went 11-8 in the league after opening with an 89-86 overtime loss at then-No. 1 Kentucky on Jan. 6. The Wildcats have won six straight in the series with nine consecutive home wins over the Rebels since a loss at Rupp in 1997-98.

Those streaks figure to grow if Ole Miss isn't better than its last time out – an 83-80 home overtime win over 5-7 Troy – though it gave the Rebels their first seven-game winning streak since a nine-game run from Dec. 23, 2012-Jan. 26, 2013.

"At the end of the day, they don't say how. They just say how many," coach Andy Kennedy said. "We're just happy to get our seventh win in a row heading into the SEC schedule."

Stefan Moody had 23 points, but that's about average for the senior guard (23.8). The SEC's leading scorer has averaged 26.2 points in the last five games, but he's shooting 34.2 percent in his previous two.

Tomasz Gielo matched Moody with a career-high 23 points, and the forward is averaging 14.0 in his last four games after managing 6.8 in his first eight.

The Rebels made up for allowing Troy to shoot 47.7 percent by forcing 19 turnovers. In the last six games, their opponents have averaged 16.5 turnovers.

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