Vanderbilt Commodores (8-11) at Kentucky Wildcats (15-4)
- Game Time: 6:30 pm EST on January 29th
- Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY
- TV Channel: Tonight’s game can be viewed on the SEC Network.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Online Stream: You can stream tonight’s action using WatchESPN.
- Odds: Kentucky is a whopping 20-point favorite tonight against the Dores. ESPN BPI gives the Cats a 94.6% chance of victory. KenPom gives them a 94% chance of a win.
- Rosters: UK | VANDY
- Live Stats
- Digital Gameday Guide
- Predictions: KenPom projects an 82-65 win for the Cats. TeamRankings is going with a an 81-61 margin, while numberFire has the home team winning 79-61.
The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off of a heck of an eight-day run. With wins at Arkansas and Texas Tech, the Wildcats have lots of momentum on their side on this final stretch of SEC play.
Nick Richards continues to look like a first round NBA Draft selection, and the Wildcats’ success has really hinged on his play this season. In several of Kentucky’s losses, Richards has been limited due to foul trouble. This Wednesday against Vanderbilt will be a great opportunity for him to shine once again.
Ashton Hagans struggled offensively against Texas Tech on Saturday, and Tyrese Maxey tried way too hard to make things happen which ultimately hurt the Wildcats during the game. These two guys are going to have to figure things out in order to be prepared for postseason play. Having an “off-game” in March can send you home really quickly.
Vanderbilt is really struggling. For the second season in a row, they have lost their most important player for the year. This year, that guy is Aaron Nesmith. He was averaging 23 points per game until exiting the season with a foot injury.
The Commodores are now leaning on junior guard Saben Lee to pick up the load. He has averaged 15.9 points per game for the season, leading the team in assists (4.6) and steals (1.5) as well. He scored 27 points in a four-point loss at Auburn and has scored 14+ points in each of his last four games.
Last year, Lee scored 24 points on 6/15 shooting in two games vs. Kentucky. In the previous season, he scored 20 in two matchups on 7/17 shooting.
The Commodores really lack in size, much like Texas Tech. Their biggest player is sophomore Ejike Obinna, who is 6-10 and only averages 3 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes per game. Everyone else in the rotation is 6-9 or smaller, and they are led in rebounding (6.3 per game) by 6-9 freshman forward Dylan Disu.
One of the few things Vandy does well is hit threes, as they 54th nationally in threes attempted per game (25.4) and threes made per game (8.3) but hit just 32.8% of them, ranking 190th.
The Dores also attempt 23.4 free throws per game, ranking 23rd in the country, but only convert 67.6% of them, ranking 259th.
Defensively, Vanderbilt ranks in the 200-300s in most of the major categories, including 241st in KenPom defensive efficiency. This is by far one of the worst defensive teams Kentucky has played this season, so this could be a good chance for guys like Keion Brooks and Johnny Juzang to find more offensive rhythm and further cement their roles on this team.
On paper, this should be a situation where Kentucky can control the game for 40 minutes, catch their breath a little, and prepare to go to Auburn on Saturday. Vanderbilt has, in fact, lost 24 SEC games in a row. So you have to feel good going into the game.
But with any league game, you cannot overlook the opponent even when they are having a bad year (or years). In a season when you drop games to Evansville and Utah, you need to stay focused every time you are on the court.