Almost three weeks ago, when these two teams met for the first time this season, Vanderbilt walked into a buzz saw in Rupp Arena. Kentucky, which came in with a fire under their ass after losing to South Carolina, played one of their best games of the season, out-rebounding the Commodores 39-21 and knocking down 12-of-23 treys (52 percent) en route to a 85-72 victory. DeMarcus Cousins absolutely killed it that day; he finished with 21 points and ten rebounds. He already had 13 points within the first nine minutes, including three and-one plays that got A.J. Ogilvy in foul trouble early, which played a big part in Kentucky’s rebounding advantage. Aside from Cousins’ monster afternoon, it may have been Kentucky’s most well-rounded offensive performance of the season. John Wall finished with 13 points and nine assists. Darnell Dodson scored 16 points in his first start since the season opener. Bledsoe had 13, Patterson 12, and DeAndre Liggins came off the bench to chip in nine points and four rebounds. As for today:
– A lot has been said about this being Calipari’s, Wall’s, and Bledsoe’s first time coaching and playing at Vanderbilt. As I’m sure everyone knows by now, Vanderbilt, despite being the one school with an academic reputation in the SEC, moronically places their benches along the baselines instead of the sidelines, ostensibly to create some kind of home court advantage. It makes it difficult for visiting coaches to communicate with their players while they’re on the far-end of the court, and could make it tough for Calipari to remind Wall and Cousins that they should be dominating Vandy’s inferior personnel. Cal does seem legitimately concerned about the whole thing, saying he’s stressed the importance of being on-the-floor coaches in this game to Wall and Bledsoe.
– The guy on Kentucky’s team that I’m most excited to see tomorrow is Patrick Patterson. He’s coming off a 19-point, 10-rebound performance against Mississippi State and should be able to again take advantage of Vandy’s lack of an interior presence the way he and Cousins did on January 30th.
– Darnell Dodson scored 16 points in Kentucky’s last game against the Commodores, but is coming off a one-point performance against Mississippi State and has only scored six points in his last three games. I’ve been an advocate of Dodson in the starting line-up for the past few weeks, but DeAndre Liggins has made quite a push for consideration over the last few games–he’s averaging seven points and nearly six rebounds over his last four games, and has blocked at least one shot in each of his last three.
– Darius Miller. He’s coming off a nine-point outing against Mississippi State. That’s all I’m going to say.