Wildcats-Commodores: SEC Sleeping Giant Wakes Up
Without watching, if someone had told me that the score of the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game Tuesday night was 93-52, I would have thought that Kentucky had finally turned the corner with first-year coach Billy Gillispie.
I would have thought that Kentucky had finally displayed a demolishing blowout of the 24th-ranked Commodores, making it two in a row over the ‘Dores this year—following a double-overtime win at Rupp Arena earlier in the season, at which time Vandy was ranked 13th.
I would have automatically assumed that Kentucky was back, running with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, and UCLA once again.
That however was the complete opposite of the events that actually unfolded in the Music City, as I did indeed watch this horrific meltdown of the SEC’s famed basketball powerhouse.
Vandy handed the Wildcats their worst loss since 1989, when Kansas routed UK by 55. In fact, it was Kentucky’s worst SEC loss ever!
Vanderbilt completely dominated the contest, leaving no doubt as to who was the better team. Eleven first-half points were all the Cats could muster, a number that is astounding in-and-of itself, without mentioning the fact that Kentucky compiled more fouls (26) than made baskets (17) on the night!
Forty-one second half points made the game look a little more respectable—if any respect at all can still be found following the 41-point thrashing UK took.
Freshman Patrick Patterson perhaps said it best when he referred to Kentucky as being “stomped in the ground” and “playing like little boys.”
Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings was almost speechless at the post-game conference, while Kentucky’s Gillispie openly admitted, “We got our tails kicked severely.”
Perhaps these feelings of distress were the underlying factors in Gillispie’s technical foul in the second half when he decided to grab the basketball and return to the bench with it following an offensive foul call against Joe Crawford. Or perhaps it was just a sign of struggles that undeniably lie ahead for Kentucky as they continue to desperately fight in an attempt to return to prominence while dropping to a record of 12-10 this season (6-3 SEC).
Vandy’s center A.J. Ogilvy dominated the show, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in only 24 minutes of play. Shan Foster added another 20 points, which almost accounted for enough points for those two men to outscore Kentucky by themselves.
Insult was further added to injury when former high school basketball’s Mr. Kentucky, Ross Neltner, single-handedly outscored the Cats for the first 24 minutes of the game, finishing the night with 15.
The corner has indeed been turned—only it is Vandy in the driver’s seat. After starting league play with a record of 2-4, they are at this time displaying as dominant a performance as anyone in the SEC. By winning four straight in a brutal schedule that has them playing six of their first nine conference games on the road, they have improved to 21-4 overall and 6-4 in the SEC.
This success for Vanderbilt will only be fueled by last night’s victory over Kentucky and the fact that they have won five out of their last six games against the Wildcats.
Look for the Commodores to present a serious threat down the stretch as they might possibly be the biggest sleeper, not only in the SEC tournament, but much more so when March Madness rolls around.
As for Kentucky, look for them to just keep sleeping, at least for the rest of this season.
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