LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — James Young scored 26 points and No. 14 Kentucky rallied from a halftime deficit to beat Mississippi State 85-63 on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (11-3, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) were playing for the first time since Dec. 28 and started slow offensively, trailing 40-37 at the break. They regrouped to tie the game at 47 with 16:47 remaining before going on a 27-6 run over the next 10:54 for a 74-53 lead.
Kentucky shot 65 percent in the second half to pull away in the SEC opener for both schools. Mississippi State (10-4, 0-1) went nearly 9 minutes without a field goal.
Young shot 8 of 18 from the field to lead Kentucky, which made 49 percent overall.
Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress each added 12 points for the Wildcats. Julius Randle grabbed 14 rebounds to go with eight points.
Craig Sword led the Bulldogs with 19 points.
Kentucky’s run was spurred mostly by Young’s play — and several alley-oops. In one spurt starting at the 11:54 mark, Young lobbed a pass to Poythress for a slam, hit a 3-pointer, made two free throws, lobbed to Randle and then lobbed to Poythress again for a one-handed dunk. It all combined to give Kentucky a 68-53 cushion.
Aaron Harrison then assisted on two lobs in a row to give Kentucky a 76-54 lead with 5:12 remaining.
Mississippi State finally scored with 4:41 left on Gavin Ware’s basket after a field goal drought that lasted 8:30.