Nothing better than leaving Memorial Coliseum with a victory which Kentucky executed today. Yes, they are the much more talented and superior team but everyone knows Vanderbilt home games can be tough. Not today, UK handed Vandy the 71-62 loss.
Offense was hard to find for both teams early in the first half. Senior leader for Vandy, Rod Odom, was tagged with two early fouls, having to sit most of the first half. This allowed Kentucky gain early control before allowing the Commodore’s to fight back, keeping the game close to end the half down 22-30.
Freshman Julius Randle struggled shooting, 3/8 from the field, 6 points, but still dominated the paint by grabbing 11 rebounds. He averages ten per game.
Aaron Harrison led UK in scoring with 8, 4/4 free throws. And not to forget, Jarrod Polson who nailed two three balls which gave Kentucky the late stretch lead.
Speaking of the defense, it is what kept UK from possibly trailing at the half as the offense was slow. Very good switching and talking, holding Vanderbilt to those 22 first half points. Leading scorer for Vandy had eight.
Two first half stats worth noting, free throws and rebounding. Kentucky went 6-6 from the charity stripe and out rebounded Vandy 23-15, 7-3 on the offensive end.
Second half began with a determined Vanderbilt team. Trio of buckets before Rod Odom was whistled for his 4th foul, having to again ride the pine. He is their best player which you would think may stop the momentum but it seemed to spark them as they cut the lead back to 5.
Coming from the T.V. timeout, sloppy play ensued with four consecutive turnovers between the teams before the Cats regained control at the 12 minute mark. Willie Cauley-Stein had a beautiful spin for a bucket followed a Alex Poythress flush, causing a Kevin Stallings timeout.
From there, UK did not look back. Extending the lead out to 14 by using their “toughness,” not letting Vandy within two possessions again, closing out the game 71-62.
It was a team effort offensively during the surge as the team’s defense continued to be strong. Three Cats scored double-figures as Cauley-Stein lead UK with 15, Aaron Harrison 14 and Andrew Harrison 10.
Alex Poythress played well once again off the bench with 9 points, 4 rebounds. He was also charged with a technical foul, delay of game, after dunking hard. I and I am sure Calipari is totally fine considering Poythress never has shown emotion and the past two games he has. Get em big fella!
Randle was somewhat shut down most of the second half for the ones wondering. Finished the game with 7 points and those 11 rebounds that he grabbed in the first twenty minutes. It happens though when he is triple teamed every time he touches the ball.
All in all a good win for Kentucky. This ends the 6-game true road losing streak dating back to last season. The defense has improved drastically from a month ago. Two things I’ve noticed is the team talking more which is needed. You have to communicate which they were not doing in December. Also, bench minutes have increased. UK played ten guys today who all contributed at some point. If that happens night in, night out, watch out.
Kentucky now sits with a 12-3 record, 2-0 in SEC play. Next game will be Tuesday night down in Arkansas. The Razorbacks just lost to Florida by 2 at home so expect a dog fight.