Kentucky Wildcats (18-5) at Vanderbilt Commodores (9-14)
- Date: Tuesday, February 11th
- Location: Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee
- Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
- TV Channel: Tonight’s game can be seen on ESPN.
- Announcers: Calling the action will be Karl Ravech, Jimmy Dykes and sideline reporter Marty Smith.
- 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: The game can be streamed online at WatchESPN.
- Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings)
- Odds: Kentucky is favored by 11.5 points as of Tuesday afternoon. ESPN BPI gives Kentucky a 82.9% of victory. KenPom gives the road team a 79% chance of victory.
- Rosters: UK | Vandy
- Live Stats
- Prediction: KenPom projects a 78-69 victory for Kentucky. TeamRankings has the Cats winning 77-67, while numberFire went with a 75-66 win for Big Blue Nation.
The Kentucky Wildcats showed up in a big way on the road on Saturday in Knoxville. In a building where the program has really struggled throughout the John Calipari era, The Wildcats were able to maintain the lead and pull away late for their biggest margin of victory in SEC play so far this season.
Kentucky will travel back to the state of Tennessee on Tuesday to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores for their second matchup of the season. The first game was not pretty for Kentucky, who won the game 71-62 after trailing at halftime.
Since that game, the Commodores looks vastly improved. They nearly beat Florida, put up 99 points in a victory over LSU, and stayed with Mississippi State until the very end of a tough road game.
Besides shooting very well against LSU, it is difficult to nail down what Vandy is doing differently. They still rely heavily on the three-point shot, play small, and try to use ball movement to get open looks.
Junior guard Saben Lee continues to be the guy for the Commodores. He averages 16.9 points per game as well as 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals. He scored 21 against the Wildcats in the first game, but his biggest performance of the season came in the win over LSU, where he racked up 33 points and six assists. He scored 20 in Saturday’s loss in Starkville.
One player who’s starting to emerge for the Dores is junior guard Maxwell Evans, who scored 31 points in the win over LSU, including 7/12 shooting from deep. He scored 10 in the first matchup with UK.
Scotty Pippen Jr., the son of NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, is averaging 11.2 points and 3.7 assists per game. He scored 12 in Rupp Arena and had reached double figures in eight straight games before being held to eight in Saturday’s loss to the Bulldogs.
The other Vanderbilt player that takes a lot of shots is freshman forward Dylan Disu, who has attempted 117 three-pointers on the season. He his 3/8 from deep against Kentucky back in January and scored 13 points for the Dores.
As with first matchup, it is vital that Kentucky gets Nick Richards going. He scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds in the first game, with all of the points and 10 of the rebounds coming in the second half. If Richards can stay out of foul trouble and get his game going early, Kentucky will have a huge advantage throughout.
This is also a great game for Ashton Hagans to get back on track. He should not have to create as much offense against this Vanderbilt team with little size that struggles defensively. So hopefully he can slow himself down and establish a rhythm where he can play in control and take care of the basketball.
EJ Montgomery is also in a position for a big game. With the lack of size across the board for the Commodores, all of the interior attention will be going toward Richards and Montgomery should have matchup advantages against whoever guards him.
The Wildcats were not in the NCAA’s top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament as announced on Saturday afternoon. If they want to even stay on the 5 seed line, they cannot afford another bad loss. A loss on the road to Vanderbilt would be a bad quadrant 3 loss that would be difficult to forgive, no matter how much better the Commodores have looked lately.
Is this a must-win game for the Wildcats? Of course not. But it is very much a “need-to-win” game.