Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - It was a tale of two halves for the 14th- ranked Kentucky Wildcats against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The Wildcats turned a three-point halftime deficit into an 85-63 victory over the Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
James Young ended with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Kentucky (11-3, 1-0 SEC), which has won three in a row since a loss at North Carolina on Dec. 14. Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress each had 12 points.
Craig Sword tallied 19 points for Mississippi State (10-4, 0-1), who have lost two of their last three games. Trivante Bloodman and Roquez Johnson donated 13 and 12 points, respectively.
"In the second half we just didn't follow the game plan," Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray said. "Guys get so wrapped up in their offense, and when you're not having success offensively they carry it over to the defensive end and that's something we've got to get better at."
The Bulldogs jumped out to an 18-8 lead eight minutes into the game. Kentucky was just 2-of-13 from the field during the stretch.
The Wildcats started to find their stroke during a 14-2 surge. Dominique Hawkins made two free throws with 7:25 left to give Kentucky a 22-20 edge.
Trailing 28-26 with 4:27 remaining, the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 spurt to take the lead. It was 40-37 Mississippi State at the half.
Kentucky started the second half on a 17-7 run. Andrew Harrison tallied five points during the spurt, including a free throw with 14:19 left to make it 54-47.
After the Bulldogs scored four straight points, Kentucky put together a 20-2 run. Poythress recorded four dunks during the burst, including a slam with 6:09 remaining to make it 74-53.
"We were trying to guard and try to pick it up on the defensive end. Get blocked shots, get steals and get more shots," Poythress said of the second- half adjustments.
Kentucky shot 65.4 percent from the field in the second half.