The top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats put their unblemished SEC record in harm's way this evening in Nashville, as they take on the dangerous Vanderbilt Commodores at Memorial Gym.
John Calipari's Wildcats are young, but their abundance of talent has lifted them to a sterling 24-1 overall mark, including a 10-0 record in SEC play thus far. Kentucky was supposed to be challenged this week by nationally-ranked Florida, but the Gators became just another victim in a 78-58 rout in Lexington, marking the Wildcats' 16th straight victory.
Kevin Stallings' Commodores are a solid 17-7 on the season and are a decent 6-3 in SEC action thus far. The team did suffer recent back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Florida, but halted the skid with a 76-61 win over LSU this week.
Kentucky holds a 134-44 edge in the all-time series, but the Commodores have won five of the last six meetings in Nashville.
The Wildcats picked up their 16th straight win in rather easy fashion, disposing of Florida by 20 points this week. The team placed four players in double figures and two of them recorded double-doubles, with Michael Kidd- Gilchrist posting 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Marquis Teague finished with 12 points and 10 assists. Doron Lamb led the offensive charge with 18 points, while center Anthony Davis was his usual dominant self down low, with 16 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots. Kentucky never allowed Florida to get into an offensive rhythm, while the Wildcats delivered on 52.7 percent from the floor, including 60 percent from behind the arc (9-of-15).
Davis may just be a freshman, but the 6-10 youngster has come on strong and has asserted himself as one of the top big men in the country. He currently leads Kentucky in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (10.0 rpg), while leading the entire country in blocked shots (120). Three others are averaging double figures in scoring, giving the team plenty of options at the offensive end. Lamb is next in line at 13.6 ppg, followed by Kidd-Gilchrist (12.6 ppg) and Terrence Jones (12.1 ppg). Darius Miller (9.9 ppg) and Teague (9.7 ppg) provide even more depth and help the team to a national-best +20.5 scoring margin.
Vanderbilt will not shy away from turning this game into a shootout, as there is plenty of firepower on the roster. Two of the top three scorers in the SEC are Commodores, with John Jenkins leading the league with 19.7 ppg and Jeffery Taylor not far behind at third with 17.8 ppg. Both players are shooting well over 40 percent from behind the arc this year, with Jenkins 89 three-pointers leading the team. Frontcourt help comes in the form of center Festus Ezeli (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and forward Lance Goulbourne (9.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg).
Vanderbilt showed its offensive punch in the lopsided win over LSU this week, hitting 50 percent from the floor. Ezeli led the team with 21 points, thanks to 8-of-10 shooting from the floor. Jenkins hit four three-pointers en route to a 20-point outing, while Taylor added three from long range and finished with 19 points.