The Kentucky Wildcats made the trip to the Music City this evening for a matchup against the Vanderbilt Commodores. In a must-win game, the Cats came out and answered the bell as they dominated the Commodores, 109-77.
In the first half, this UK team came out and impressed on both ends of the floor after two tough losses last week. They were lights out in the first half as they shot 58% from the field and a scorching hot 71% from 3.
Add in them forcing Vandy to shoot 38% from the field, and you can start to see the blueprint for how this team can get back into the National Contender conversation. They did slow down toward the end of the half; however, they still took a 54-38 lead into the locker room.
Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, they just ran into a buzz saw tonight, as this Kentucky offense could not be stopped. Whether it was Rob Dillingham, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, etc... the ball just kept going through the net.
Kentucky finished just one point shy of what would have been the program’s most points in an SEC game under John Calipari.
It was a fun night in Nashville. The Cats will next turn their attention to Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who come to Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon.
A 2-0 week would go a long way. One step closer tonight.
Now let's take a look at what to know from tonight's win over the Commodores:
Mitchell and Wagner both out
The injury bug has bitten this Kentucky program once again, and this time, it is two of the biggest contributors on this season's roster. Tonight the Cats had to go into Memorial Gymnasium without DJ Wagner and Tre Mitchell available, as they are working back from an ankle injury (Wagner) and a sore back (Mitchell).
It appears that Wagner is getting close to a return, but don't be shocked to see the Cats having to win a couple more games without their talented power forward.
Dillingham remains on fire
The Rob Dillingham experience has been a fun one this season. The talented point guard is ELITE offensively, and after a 35-point performance against Tennessee on Saturday, he picked up right where he left off tonight.
This Kentucky backcourt is legit, and it appears Dillingham is becoming the go-to scorer when he is on the floor. He might shoot a ton of shots, but at the moment, it seems everything he puts up is nothing but net.
For this team to make a run over these last ten games of the regular season, it is going to take a few of these electric games from Dillingham.
Antonio Reeves is an All-American
There was a serious concern that Antonio Reeves would not return to Lexington for his final season in college basketball. Well, thank goodness he did.
After another awesome performance on both ends of the floor, it is very clear that Reeves returning to Kentucky was best for both his game and this team. Offensively, he leads the charge for a team that is un-guardable at times, and he has transformed himself into an NBA draft pick.
Enjoy it, BBN. We are about to add another name to the list of All-Americans to play for the Cats.
Defense flashes at moments
The elephant in the room when talking about this Kentucky team is their defense. It has not been good consistently this season. Tonight, however, you saw some flashes.
To make a deep run in March and to have an impressive run to end the season, we don’t need to have a lockdown defense. With such a potent offense, Coach Cal and his staff need to figure out a way to teach this team how to get a handful of stops per half to help find some separation.
Was it perfect tonight? Not even close, but you could see a noticeable difference on that end of the floor in this game.
Now, let’s celebrate the win!