Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Off to one of the best starts in school history, the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats continue their run through their SEC slate, as they play host to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Tuesday evening at Rupp Arena.
John Calipari's Wildcats have won all 17 of their games this season, making it the fourth-best start in school history. Kentucky is one of only two unbeatens left in the nation (Virginia being the other) and kept its flawless run intact with Saturday's 70-48 blasting of Alabama on the road.
Kevin Stallings' Commodores are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to momentum heading into this contest. Vanderbilt is a decent 11-6 on the year, but the team enters with a three-game losing streak in tow. The team was also in action on Saturday, but suffered a 57-54 loss at Mississippi State. The setback dropped Vandy to a miserable 1-3 in the SEC.
Kentucky holds a 139-46 edge in the all-time series with Vanderbilt, including a 60-7 mark at home. The Wildcats have won six straight in this series at Rupp Arena.
Vanderbilt is one of the more efficient squads in the SEC this season and enters this game shooting a solid .488 from the floor overall, leading to 71.5 ppg. The defensive effort has been there for the most part as well, with foes being held under 40 percent shooting (.392) and netting just 62.4 ppg. Sophomore center Damian Jones headlines the Vandy attack, shooting .550 from the floor and pacing the team in scoring (16.0 ppg), rebounding (7.2 rpg) and blocked shots (29). Freshman guard Riley LaChance has made an immediate impact in Nashville this season. The youngster is averaging 13.3 ppg (leads all freshman in the SEC) and extends defenses with his ability to drain the 3- point shot, as he is shooting .402 from behind the arc (35-of-87).
Neither team played particularly well on the offensive end, but it was Vanderbilt that held a 26-18 lead at Mississippi State over the weekend. However, the Commodores allowed the Bulldogs to get back into the game with a 14-0 run in the second half, and then couldn't hold off the home team in the end, suffering their third straight loss. Jones led all scorers, posting 21 points in defeat. LaChance added 12 points for Vanderbilt, which shot just .385 from the floor overall.
Kentucky is starting to return to form at both ends of the floor and there will be a number of blowout victories left on the schedule if the team keeps it up. The latest of which came in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, as the 22-point victory marked the largest win over Alabama since the 1992 SEC Tournament (26). The team shot a cool .500 from the floor against the Crimson Tide, but it wasn't the usual suspects that led the way offensively. Devin Booker (13 pts), Tyler Ulis (11 pts) and Dakari Johnson (11 pts) all reached double figures coming off the bench.
The Wildcats are an effective offensive team, but their strength comes at the defensive end, where they lead the nation in scoring defense (50.4 ppg), field-goal percentage defense (.317) and blocked shots (135), as well as scoring margin (+25.7). There aren't any prolific scoring options on the roster, but rather a deep group of contributors, led by Aaron Harrison and his 11.4 ppg. Booker is also in double figures at 10.6 ppg, with Willie Cauley- Stein (9.6 ppg), Karl-Anthony Towns 98.5 ppg) and Johnson (8.4 ppg) are all just under that mark.