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Vanderbilt Commodores at Kentucky Wildcats (1): Open Game Thread

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Welcome to the third from last regular-season open game thread for the 2011-12 season. Today, the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores into Rupp Arena for a basketball contest that pits two of the best teams in the SEC against each other. Game particulars as follows, courtesy of

Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt
Sat., Feb. 25 - 12:00 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | VU Get Acrobat Reader
Radio: UK IMG
Live Audio
Text Updates

This game is one that Vanderbilt would very much like to win for post-season purposes. For the Wildcats, their main motivations are continuing the 3-year undefeated streak at Rupp Arena, along with the now more-likely-than-not possibility that Kentucky may wind up undefeated in the SEC for the first time since 2003. I'm not sure how much the latter is worth to the Wildcats, but the former is certainly something of a motivation.

For the Commodore perspective on things, be sure to visit the outstanding Anchor of Gold, SB Nation's Vanderbilt blog.

In any case, this Kentucky team never seems to have a problem with motivation. To the contrary, foes looking to defeat them are forced to do it the old-fashioned way -- better execution on both ends -- because these Wildcats have proven a capability to rise to whatever level of motivation they require to win a game, a discipline that is almost unbelievably rare at any level of sport.

Here's what Kentucky needs to do to win:

  • Defend the three as if their life depended on it. This requires no exposition -- all Wildcats fans are familiar with Vanderbilt's peerless perimeter scoring capability.
  • Rebound the basketball defensively. Reducing OR's means fewer open 3-point shots.
  • Avoid excessive turnovers. See just above.

Remarkably, that's all Kentucky really needs to do to win. If Vanderbilt does not make 10 or more threes, there is almost no scenario in which they win in Rupp Arena. Since many of Vandy's best looks come off offensive rebounds or turnovers, minimizing those, plus forcing them to put the ball on the floor in the half court, is all Kentucky needs to do to make it nearly impossible for Vanderbilt to win.

Of course, the theory is one thing, but the execution is altogether another. Let's see how they do.

Go, 'Cats!