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Kentucky survives Vanderbilt: 5 things to know and postgame banter

Another one comes down to the wire, but the Cats pulled out their second win in a row.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 19 CBS Sports Classic - Kentucky v North Carolina Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats survived the Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday night by a score of 77-74.

Kentucky got off to a quick start, but the Dores’ hot three-point shooting allowed them to take over the first half. Going into the break, Vandy led 40-33.

After the half, Kentucky fought back to take the lead with under eight minutes to play. It was back and forth from there until Davion Mintz nailed a three with less than a minute left to take the lead for good. Vandy had two three-point attempts in the final seconds, but neither of them were able to go down.

Next up, the Cats will travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators on Saturday evening.

New starting lineup

Coach Cal finally took notice of someone who’s been leaving it all on the court game after game—Lance Ware. Ware got his first career start tonight in place of Isaiah Jackson.

While Ware is the most athletic or nimble big for the Cats, he is the biggest hustler and it was only a matter of time before his time came.

Ware simply works hard no matter where he is on the court. He rebounds and he bangs down low on both ends of the court. After he snagged 12 rebounds last time out, he proved there was no reason why he couldn’t crack the starting five.

We all know how good Jackson is, but having him and Sarr on the court together kills spacing. Maybe this will be more than just a one game thing.

This is the Sarr we’ve all been waiting for

Sarr has been incredibly inconsistent thus far in the early part of the season, but he showed what he’s capable of tonight.

Of course, Sarr had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Richmond, 22 points and seven rebounds against Notre Dame, and 14 points and 12 rebounds last time out against Mississippi State, but he also hasn’t scored in double figures in the other five games this year.

Tonight, Sarr was aggressive and showcased his elite footwork in the low post. We all know about his midrange game, but when he’s down low attacking his man, he does some things with his footwork that are a coach’s dream for a big man.

Most importantly, Sarr wasn’t shy about really going at his man. He drew fouls at a high rate, which really got Vandy’s bigs into foul trouble. Let’s hope he can start to consistently play these kinds of games.

Allen continues to provide valuable minutes

After exploding for 23 points on seven made threes on Saturday, Dontaie Allen got a lot of PT tonight and he continued to give Kentucky quality minutes.

Not only is Allen a shooter, but he showed his ability to drive to the basket with a finger roll when the shot wasn’t falling. He also does a pretty good job of rebounding the basketball.

He was also tasked with guarding Vandy’s best player, Scotty Pippen, Jr., at times throughout the game and he held his own.

Allen has earned a chance to play more and more, and I believe he’ll continue to do so. Ya love to see it.

Limiting turnovers

The Cats had by far their best game of the year in the turnover department. They didn’t commit their first TO until early in the second half when Lance Ware was given a technical/flagrant foul when blocking out on a Vandy free throw attempt (it was a weak call).

The point is that UK has struggled with turnovers all season long and they really did well limiting them today. It’s another step in the right direction for a team that struggles enough offensively.

Free throw shooting was very good

This was mainly due to Sarr as he shot and made double digit free throws, but it was a win for Kentucky nonetheless.

One of Kentucky’s biggest offensive struggles has been getting to the free throw line and making them when they get there. That wasn’t the case tonight. And just like limiting the turnovers, it’s another step in the right direction for this team.

Two in a row! Let’s keep it going. Go Cats!