Kentucky (9-4) at Vanderbilt (6-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gym (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: UK 8-1, Vanderbilt 4-2. Away Record: UK 0-2,
Vanderbilt 1-1. Neutral Record: UK 1-1, Vanderbilt 1-3. Conference Record: UK
0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 136-45.
GAME NOTES: The Kentucky Wildcats and the Vanderbilt Commodores open up their
respective SEC schedules against each when they square off at Memorial Gym in
Nashville on Thursday night.
Defending national champion Kentucky came into the season with incredibly high
expectations and the No. 3 ranking, and although it started off well with wins
in six of its first seven games, it promptly dropped back-to-back contests to
Notre Dame and Baylor to tumble all the way out of the Top-25. Things have
been looking up of late however, as it has won five of its last six, with its
only loss in that span coming at nationally-ranked Louisville on Dec. 29,
The Wildcats had arguably their strongest all-around performance in their
latest game on Jan. 2, dismantling Eastern Michigan in a 90-38 final. It was
the fewest points they have allowed to an opponent since November of 2007, and
they shot an impressive 51.7 percent from the field (including 10-of-26 from
3-point range) too add insult to injury. Kyle Wiltjer came off the bench to
lead five teammates in double-figures with 17 points, while Alex Poythress (16
points) and Archie Goodwin (15 points, eight points) were also strong. Julius
Mays chipped in 13 points, Willie Cauley-Stein had a double-double with 11
points and 11 rebounds, and Nerlens Noel rounded out a balanced attack with
eight points, 13 boards, three blocks and two steals.
Vanderbilt's season has had just as many ups as downs, resulting in a 6-6
record. It has played well on its home floor however, winning four of six at
After dropping back-to-back games to Middle Tennessee (56-52) and Butler
(68-49), the Commodores got back on track with a 64-50 win over William & Mary
on Jan. 2. They shot 45.3 percent from the floor in the triumph and were led
by an impressive performance from reserve Sheldon Jeter, who scored 14 points
on 6-of-7 shooting. Rod Odom and Kedren Johnson were also a factor with 12
Kentucky has a firm handle on the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 136-45.
However, the Commodores defeated the then-No. 1 Wildcats last March in the SEC
Tournament championship game, 71-64, for their first SEC Tournament title
On the season, Kentucky scores 79.2 ppg behind better than 49 percent field
goal shooting, both of which are vastly greater than what it allows to its
opponents (.375 FG percentage, 60.8 ppg). Goodwin not only nets a team-best
15.8 ppg, but he grabs 5.2 rpg and dishes out 3.8 apg. Poythress adds 14.0 ppg
on an outstanding 64.2 percent from the field, while fellow freshmen Noel
(10.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.5 bpg, 2.6 spg) and Cauley-Stein (7.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.1
bpg) have also played well. The Wildcats' top non-freshman is Wiltjer, who
drains 43.4 percent of his 3-pointers en route to 12.0 ppg.
It's easy to see how Vanderbilt has ended up with such a mediocre record when
looking at the numbers, as the team scores nearly the exact same amount of
points (59.7 ppg) as it allows (59.5 ppg). Johnson has been one of the SEC's
top guards, putting up 16.6 ppg while also leading the team in assists (3.9
apg) and steals (1.6 spg). Kyle Fuller (11.9 ppg) and Odom (9.6 ppg) have also
been steady performers for the Commodores.
Kentucky hasn't lived up to expectations, and against top competition it has
faltered, but it has shown that against weaker teams it is more than capable
of playing well at both ends of the floor. The homecourt advantage for Vandy
won't matter much in this one as the Wildcats roll.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 77, Vanderbilt 62
01/10 10:37:10 ET
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