I think Vanderbilt deserves a lot of credit for refusing to give up and making a decent run in the second half that put the game back to within the fringes of doubt, at least. Fortunately for Kentucky and unfortunately for the Commodores, Vandy missed a critical dunk attempt that might well have inspired a serious comeback. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing through the last five minutes of the game for Kentucky. But Vanderbilt gave a game effort, and when UK travels down to Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville next month, a lot more will likely be on the line.
Kentucky did what they had to do today after taking the national #1 ranking for a drive Tuesday night against the South Carolina Gamecocks and running it off a cliff. A two-game losing streak would have seriously debilitated the Wildcat's confidence, and the confidence of the fans. But solid double-digit win has restored all that with just a few caveats.
More on that after the jump.
Here are my observations:
- Game ball: Darnell Dodson. He not only made threes, he defended his man very well, and even got rebounds. I was very pleased with the performance of Dodson today. It is clear that Coach Cal's efforts at coaching have resonated with him, and we need him to be productive.
- Darius Miller still hasn't gotten out of his sophomore funk. That's okay for today since we didn't need him.
- DeAndre Liggins just keeps getting better and better. He is leading the league in floorburns, and today he added some solid scoring and made several wonderful slashes to the basket.
- The only person who can stop DeMarcus Cousins is himself. But as Coach Cal said, if you look up "Beast" in the dictionary, you'll find a photo of Demarcus Cousins staring back at you through his glasses.
- Great game by Eric Bledsoe. Don't know why he didn't start. Don't care. He played very well.
- Patrick Patterson was good today, and he made 3 of 4 three-point shots, but I have a question -- why is he playing so much 20 feet from the basket? Only Coach Cal knows, I guess.
- John Wall has been looking more and more human, and he looked human today. But that's okay, he is young. It's hard to keep that in mind, but he is.
- LeBron James at Rupp Arena is a good thing, I think. Maybe we should bring him with us all the time.
- I like what Perry Stevenson did today. He really worked hard when extended minutes were demanded of him.
- The officiating was loathsome for both teams. Nobody benefited, I think, but they made the game unpleasant to watch.
- I really liked the work we did on John Jenkins. He is just a freshman, but he is a player to be feared. UK did a good job on him today.
- A.J. Ogilvy was completely outmatched by DeMarcus Cousins today. It was, in fact, a mismatch.
- Daniel Orton was within an inch or two of putting the game away earlier. He missed a couple of tip-dunks that would have brought the house down. That double foul that ended his participation was absurd.
- The Rupp Arena crowd was incredibly surly today. I liked it. I was surly too, yelling at the flat screen, cursing and pounding. This was a big game. It mattered. And we won it convincingly.