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7 to Go: UK Hoops in Music City - Preview & Game Thread

Last Sunday the Cats pulled out their first win over a ranked team since early December. With just seven games to go in the regular season, UK Hoops needs to pull out all the stops to ensure themselves a prime spot in the SEC Tournament as well as the Road to Tampa. Next up: Vanderbilt!

BGE is turning heads at the point!
BGE is turning heads at the point!
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

We're in the home stretch, Wildcat fans, and we absolutely, positively cannot take our foot off the pedal if we want this team to succeed. I really hope your hearts have recovered from last night's brawl at the O Center, because if there is one thing we've learned from UK Hoops this season, it's that they really like making us reach for the nitro!

Led by newly and deservedly decorated point guard Makayla Epps, UK Hoops had a lot to be proud of after Sunday's victory over #21 Georgia. Jennifer O'Neill's 21 points and 75% shooting from three point range was one cause for celebration. Five players in double digits was another. 83% free throw shooting was yet another. 20 turnovers? Not so much.

One thing that has not been highlighted as well as it should have been is Bria Goss's return to form. Despite playing with what can best be described as a mock-up of a headless Hamburger Helper guy on her left hand, Bria had 10 points against Georgia to include 2 three-pointers when her team really needed them. She delivered 16 points the week before against Mizzou, where she was a perfect 3/3 from the charity stripe. As she continues to improve week to week, we'll see better and better numbers from our senior leader - and for that we are very grateful.

Ok, ok. Enough celebrating past success - let's get to today's challenge!

Vanderbilt is an underwhelming 13-10 on the season and 4-6 in SEC play. After a 39 point drubbing at home by UConn, they've had a mixed performance in league play: losing by 9 at Georgia but wining by 3 at Alabama. They did manage to beat #19 Mississippi State when the Bulldogs visited Music City, which proves yet again how tough road games are in the SEC. (The 'Dores are 9-3 at home. Just saying.)

Vanderbilt doesn't really have those one or two amazing standout players, but has a nice even spread on their shooting performance. (They also have a set of twins, but I'd argue ours are better.) Players to watch include 5'9" freshman Rebekah Dahlman, who's averaging just under 10 points a game and shoots +40% from the field. Also expect a big performance from 5'10" junior Morgan Batey, who's hitting 51% from the field and 86% from the charity stripe. (I strongly recommend guarding her. A lot.)

Vandy shoots a surprisingly low 61.9 points per game. They play a much more deliberate style of offense, so it's going to be really interesting to watch them handle the Cats' uptempo pressure.

Our keys to victory continue to be:

  • Effective ball movement while minimizing turnovers - play fast but not too fast
  • Lethal defense - 93 blocks for the season with our height disadvantage is pretty sweet! Need to continue to elevate our pressure and minimize second chance shots.
  • Smart shot selection
  • Hitting free throws

As Makayla continues to get more and more confident at the point we should start to see a drop in those turnovers...getting them back to under 13 per game vs. our current average of 17 would go a long way in maximizing the effectiveness of Mitchell's 40 Minutes of Dread.

You can watch our women continue to claw and fight their way to glory at 1 PM on the SEC Network, or tune into 630 WLAP to hear ASoB favorite Neil Price calling the action from Nashville. We hope to see YOU in our thread as we cheer the Cats onto victory!

Until gametime - Go Big Blue!