Kentucky will hand Vanderbilt its first home loss of the season

Steve O Speak

By Fanspeak Contributing Writer Geoff Nelowet

The second-ranked Kentucky Wildcats will head to Memorial Gym today to take on SEC rival and nationally ranked Vanderbilt (19).  Earlier this season, Kentucky defeated Vandy by 13 at home. Kentucky is now 25-1 on the season, and Vanderbilt comes in at a respectable 20-5.

Vanderbilt is 13-0 at home this year, and they are facing by far their biggest home test of the season. Previous to this game, the Commodores’ only win over a ranked opponent came against a volatile Tennessee Volunteers team that has been up and down all year. Vanderbilt needs this win to cement an NCAA birth and a higher seed.

If Vandy wants to pull the upset, their high-scoring offense will have bring its best performance of the year, and their defense will have to show up with some degree of consistency. A.J. Oglivy, Jeffery Taylor and Jermaine Beal each average around 14 points per game, and those impressive scoring averages will not be enough against the Wildcats who not only play better defense, but score even more points per contest.

Kentucky averages 81 points per game – compared to Vanderbilt’s 79 – and more importantly, they play tougher defense, which justifies their 25 victories to only one loss. No one in the country has been able to consistently stop Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Wall and Cousins, two one-year rentals before they undoubtedly jump to the NBA, are shoe-ins for All-American lists, and it seems unlikely that anyone on Vanderbilt’s roster will be able to slow them down.

Vanderbilt’s perfect home record will be given a blemish today, as Kentucky is simply too physical for Vandy’s finesse, jump-shooting style. Expect Vanderbilt to keep it close for at least the first half before Kentucky pulls away. Final score: Kentucky 85 Vanderbilt 74.

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