Flaws Exposed?

Turnovers. Mental errors. Mistakes in the final minutes while still having a chance to win. The lack of an experienced big man.

Weaknesses that the fifth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats have covered up most of this season haunted them Saturday in a 66-60 loss to Vanderbilt that snapped a 10-game road winning streak in the SEC.

"We had some real fundamental breakdowns, things we do on a regular basis," coach Tubby Smith said. Our team, Kentucky, that survived shooting 27 percent at UCLA on Dec. 6 and pulled out a last-second victory after blowing a big lead at Mississippi State on Jan. 13 couldn't do anything right when it mattered most. Kentucky had won 22 of the previous 23 games in this series. The Wildcats out-rebounded Vanderbilt 41-34 and even led by as much as 10 points in the second half. "We always think we will pull it out, and (Saturday) it just didn't happen," Erik Daniels said.

They left little-used freshman Dan Cage open, and his three-pointer with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left put Vandy ahead 61-60. Chuck Hayes fouled trying to rebound a missed jumper by Daniels with 1:40 to go, then it got worse. Cliff Hawkins lost the ball out of bounds underneath Kentucky's basket, then Vanderbilt guard Russell Lakey stole it from Hawkins on the sideline. Smith tried to help his Wildcats' focus with a timeout. It didn't help. The Wildcats were out-shot 41 percent (20-of-48) to 37 percent (25-of-67).


AllWildcats Top Stories