The Big Blue Nation would like to welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores to Rupp Arena for tonight’s basketball game against the Kentucky Wildcats. As I mentioned in the pre-game, the Commodores are the second-most successful SEC team against the Wildcats, and I suppose it’s no surprise they’re one of our closest geographical conference neighbors.
Vandy is a young team, but they have some talent and have had some success. Unfortunately, that success hasn’t been against conference foes, as they have dropped their last three consecutive games, two on the road and one away. This is the last of a two-game road swing for the ‘Dores before they head home to face LSU.
Essentials for victory
Defend the arc — Vanderbilt is a very good 3-point shooting team. The last time we faced one of those, it didn’t go well. Kentucky must force Vandy to put the ball on the floor.
Patience against zone — Vandy will zone, no doubt about it. Kentucky must not settle for threes, they must use the two-man game, the flash into the middle, and look for the short baseline jumper or pass.
Turn over Vanderbilt — Vandy is inexperienced and prone to turnovers. Kentucky must take advantage of that.
Try to get into transition — Most teams have done a good job of keeping the ‘Cats out of transition. Kentucky needs to try to get some early offense before the Commodores get set.
Attack off the dribble — Every time the Commodores press out on Kentucky’s guards, they need to attack off the dribble and force the defense to move.
Paint touches — Kentucky needs to get a lot of them. They have a size and talent advantage on the front line that they’ll want to exploit.
I’m always leery of Vanderbilt. Kevin Stallings always manages to get his team in a competitive position even when it’s notably inferior, and if Kentucky is feeling cocky, this is exactly the wrong game to bring that attitude to. There’s just something about the Commodores that makes me want to insist upon crossing all the "i’s" and dotting all the "t’s." I’m not exactly nervous, but I do hope Calipari impresses upon this team how dangerous Vanderbilt teams can be.