Kentucky-Vanderbilt Basketball: Keys to the Game and SEC Predictions

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 02:  A Kentucky Wildcats cheerleader performs during the SEC game against the Ole Miss Rebels on February 2, 2010 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 85-75.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NCAA Tournament bubble is starting to form and the SEC has three teams clearly on it. Two of those teams, Florida and Ole Miss, play today in Oxford.

But the big game of the weekend is Kentucky traveling to Nashville to face Vanderbilt. The Wildcats beat the Commodores by a 85-72 score in Rupp Arena a few weeks back.

Kentucky had just come off its first loss of the season against South Carolina. John Calipari's club got arguably its biggest scare since against Miss State on Tuesday.

Back in January, both teams shot the ball very well, especially Vandy, which hit 47 percent from the field. But Kentucky dominated the boards, 41 to 22, and nailed 12 of 23 three-pointers.


Keys to the Game

1. Battle on the Boards

Vanderbilt has to do a much better job of keeping Kentucky off the boards. That will be tough for Kevin Stalling's team, which ranks only sixth in the SEC in rebounding. Meanwhile, Kentucky ranks first in the conference and third nationally on the offensive end.


2. Defend the Three

The Wildcats had an unusually good day from beyond the arc, especially forward Patrick Patterson, who was 3-of-4. Kentucky ranks eighth in the SEC at 32 percent. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt ranks second in the league but has to play better than its 38 percent allowed on defense, worst in the Southeastern Conference.


3. Home-Court Advantage

Memorial Gym's home-court advantage is unlike any other's in the conference. With the benches on the end and the wide-open playing surface, it can be difficult to adjust for new players. And that is what Kentucky has.

Vanderbilt is 13-0 at home this season.



I think the Wildcats breathed a sigh of relief when they got out of Starkville alive with a win. I wonder if a little letdown may be coming, but now is not the time to have one, facing the second-best team in the league on the road.


Pick: Vanderbilt


Other SEC Games This Weekend

Ole Miss over Florida
South Carolina over Tennessee
Georgia over Alabama
Miss State over LSU
Auburn over Arkansas