Death, taxes, and the Kentucky Wildcats; opponents raining in three-point shots. A three-point barrage was on full display Friday night in Bridgestone Arena as the Kentucky Wildcats were bounced from their first SEC Tournament game by the Vanderbilt Commodores, 80-73.
Kentucky got out to a nice start early, but trailed the final 20 minutes and 28 seconds. The Wildcats rebounded the basketball well for the majority of the game but shot an abysmal 25% from three-point range and 55% from the free-throw line. Two stats that will cost a team a ball game.
Vanderbilt’s trio of Ezra Manjon, Tyrin Lawrence and Jordan Wright combined to shoot 21-36 from the field — scoring 61 of the team’s points. It was quite the performance, especially considering those same three players averaged just 31.8 points during the regular season.
Kentucky’s rather “soft” defense could be credited for some of the easier shots Vanderbilt had on Friday night, but enough low-percentage shots went in to say that it was also just the Commodores’ night.
Vanderbilt also had the pleasure of spoiling Kentucky’s senior day in Lexington last week, 68-66, so credit Jerry Stackhouse and his team for taking out the Wildcats twice in 10 days.
It’s difficult to say where can Kentucky can improve between now and next week. The team’s defense has been hit or miss all season and their depth has suddenly vanished.
Kentucky will learn on Sunday what seed they’ll receive for next week’s NCAA Tournament. But the time between now and then will undoubtedly feel incredibly long.
Jacob Toppin came out of the gate with a quick 10 points and eight rebounds in the first 14 minutes of the game. He finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds — which was his first double-double since the team’s win over Auburn on February 25th. Toppin was aggressive early on and took more three-point shots, which is exactly what Kentucky will need when the Big Dance begins next week.