Friday, January 10, 2014

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt....A Preview

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt 1/11/14 
Saturday 3:30 PMEST/2:30PMCST (TV-CBS)
UK leads the series 138-46

Vanderbilt Commodores

Location: Nashville
Enrollment: 6,800
Arena: 14,316 Average home attendance 8,853)

Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
Career Record: 400-239 (62.6%) 20 Seasons
At Vandy: 276-176 (61.1%) 14 Seasons

2012-13 Record:16-17
2012-13 SEC Record: 8-10
2012-13 Postseason: None

2013-14 Record: 8-5
2013-14 SEC Record: 0-1

Vandy 86 Georgia St. 80
Vandy 80 Lipscomb 69
Butler 85 Vandy 77 (OT)
Providence 67 Vandy 60
Vandy 75 Morgan St. 66
Vandy 77 LMU 68
Texas 70 Vandy 64
Vandy 69 Marshall 67
Vandy 58 Austin Peay 56
Vandy 76 Georgia Tech 63
St. Lpuis 57 Vandy 49
Vandy 79 Northeastern 49
Alabama 68 Vandy 63

Vandy Stats:

PPG-70.2
FG%-46.5%
3 PT%-34.9% (5.6 PG)
FT%-64.3%
RPG-37.4 (+3.3 PG)
APG-13.7
TPG-14.5
SPG-5.0
BPG-4.4

Starting Lineup:

Rod Odom-F 6’9” Sr……………………………13.8 PPG
James Siakam-F 6’6” Jr…………………………7.5 PPG
Damian Jones-C 6’10” Fr………………………10.7 PPG
Kyle Fuller-G 6’1” Sr…………………………..10.0 PPG
Dia-Jon Parker-G 6’3” Jr………………………..5.8 PPG

Other Key Players:

Luke Kornet-F 6’10” Fr………………………….4.3 PPG
Shelby Moats-F 6’8” Jr………………………..…1.2 PPG

Things have not been very bright in music city for coach Stallings and Vandy since last season….the Dores struggled to a 16-17 last season after 3 straight trips to the NCAA. Coach Stallings had counted on his last year’s roster returning for this season, but 4 players left the team unexpectedly so the roster was thin as this season started. Now Stallings has lost Josh Henderson for the season due to injury….and before the Alabama game…leading scorer Eric McClellan was not permitted to go to Alabama with the team…. and now he has been declared ineligible for the remainder of the season. Losing McClellan is obviously a big loss for Vandy which is now down to 7 scholarship players!

Despite the lack of depth and all the player losses, Vandy can still field a pretty good team…..they have good size with 6’9” Rod Odom and 6’10” Damian Jones. Odom has been a terrific perimeter shooter this season….hitting 37-80 for an outstanding 46.3%….Odom hit 5-7 from long range against Bama. In addition, Odom is the team’s leading rebounder. Dai-Jon Parker is also shooting very well from the perimeter hitting 45.2%. 

The fact is that defeating Vandy in Nashville has almost always been difficult regardless of the difference in talent…..as the Dores tend to play lights out against UK. Thus far this season, attendance for Vandy home games has been disappointing as they are averaging 5,500 empty seats. I strongly suspect that when the Cats come to town….the attendance will be far greater!

UK Stats:

PPG-80.1%
FG%-47.9%
3 PT%-30.0% (4.8 PG)
FT%-66.3%
RPG-44.1 (+12.6 PG)
APG-12.7
TPG-12.8
SPG-4.0
BPG-7.1

UK returned to action against Miss St. after 11 days of practice and definitely looked very rusty in the 1st half, but played much better in the 2nd half winning by 22 points. Coach Cal was able to play most of the bench and several did fine. James Young had an outstanding game scoring 26 points, garnering 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. However, the Harrison twins struggled hitting 3-12 from the field, 1-6 from the perimeter and had 7 turnovers between them. 

This UK team continues to be a very poor perimeter shooting team….they hit only 4-20 against Miss St…..and are shooting a pathetic 30% for the season. One would guess that UK will face more and more packed zones to take away inside the paint scoring and forcing the Cats to chuck it from the cheap seats. Although Cal says not to worry about FT’s……count me worried….I’ve seen enough very competitive college games that are lost at the FT line. UK was 21-33 against Miss St. for 63.6%…..and the Cats are only 66.3% for the season at the charity line.

The Cats now face a depleted Vandy team in Nashville….and although UK will clearly be favorite….they will be facing a hostile Vandy crowd in a very difficult venue. It will be increasingly important, especially on the road, that UK play tough hard nose defense and start making more perimeter shots and free throws.

Hopefully, all the rust is gone from the 1st half performance against Miss St. UK simply cannot afford to play that poorly, for even a half, on the road and not suffer losses. I see a UK win over Vandy by 8-10 points…..GO CATS!

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