In fact, over their last 10 matchups, Kentucky is 9-1 against Vanderbilt, and Wednesday night’s result was no different. Head coach John Calipari and his team took out the Commodores, 71-62, for their 16th win of the season.
While the Wildcats did manage to pull out the victory, the road was more bumpy than usual. Nick Richards picked up two quick fouls and only played five minutes during the first half, failing to score a point in the first 20 minutes of action. Considering Richards has been Kentucky’s most valuable player this season, one might say that had a bit to do with Kentucky’s 35-28 halftime deficit.
In fact, Kentucky trailed for much of the second half until they finally overcame the hot-shooting Commodores, as well as their own lack of production on offense. With Richards inserted back into action for the second half, the much-improved big man led the team’s comeback late in the second half to secure the win. Kentucky will next lace up this Saturday in a heavyweight matchup at 17th-ranked Auburn.
If you can’t see it, I can’t help you. Nick Richards plays five minutes and goes scoreless in the first half, Kentucky trails at the halfway mark. Richards then proceeds to play 17 minutes and score 15 points in the second half, leading the comeback for Kentucky.
No one saw this coming, but it’s the blatant truth: Nick Richards is this team’s most valuable player night-in and night-out. Richards’ numbers speak for themself (15 points, 11 rebounds for another double-double) but his efficiency around the rim, consistency in knocking down mid-range jump-shots, ability to defend the rim and leadership on the floor is unmatched.
Anyone on Kentucky have a good game, but Nick Richards has to play well for this team to win regardless of the competition.