Looking For a Bounce Back

Kentucky got an idea of where it stands in the national picture over the weekend. <p> The 10th-ranked Wildcats get the opportunity to show that they're still the team to beat in the Southeastern Conference when they host Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.

Kentucky (10-2, 1-0 SEC) had a six-game winning streak stopped Sunday with a 79-75 home loss to second-ranked Kansas. The Wildcats shot less than 31 percent (21-of-68) and were dominated inside in falling to 1-2 against ranked teams this season.

Junior Keleena Azubuike led Kentucky with 12 points, but was just 4-of-16 from the floor in 29 minutes. Freshman Randolph Morris missed all eight of his shots and went 3-of-6 from the free-throw line. Kansas was without its best interior player, Wayne Simien, but freshman center C.J. Giles collected 10 points and six rebounds.

"They outplayed us inside," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "Look at the percentages of their post people and you can see we had a tough time guarding them inside. Sasha Kaun came in and we couldn't stop him. We struggled shooting the ball, obviously. We have to make some shots. We had some opportunities when we got in the post. We made some bad decisions, some undisciplined decisions at times. It was a hard-fought game. Kansas is obviously a very good team. You look at the stats and we did some okay things, but in the end it 's all about execution and getting the stops you have to get."

While the Wildcats were unsuccessful with their interior defense against the Jayhawks, they will have to be prepared to guard the perimeter against Vanderbilt (11-4, 2-0).

The Commodores have won seven straight since a 16-point loss at Cincinnati on Dec. 9, and are shooting 44 percent (174-of-250) from 3-point range this season.

"You just better hope you stay out on them," Smith said of Vanderbilt. "They get you out there guarding that three and then they go to back-door you and they get layups. They get them against everyone. Their style of offense is one that a lot of people have employed. It's the Princeton style where you are always setting people up, spreading the defense. They're a team that over the last few years has really meshed."

Vanderbilt's most lethal shooter, junior guard Mario Moore, was named SEC player of the week on Monday. The 5-foot-11 Moore collected 34 points and 10 assists as the Commodores opened conference play with victories over 21st-ranked Alabama and Tennessee. Moore is the only starter averaging in double figures for Vandy at 14.5 points per game. He is shooting just over 50 percent (40-of-79) from beyond the arc.

The Commodores will have a tough time following up their performance in Saturday's 88-63 romp over the Volunteers. Moore scored 18 points and Corey Smith added 15 as Vandy set school records with 18 3-pointers and 31 assists.

"I love how we share the ball. I just think our team does a great job of not caring who makes it," coach Kevin Stallings said after his team improved to 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since the 1989-90 season.

"Thirty-one assists and 34 baskets - I've never really even seen anything like that. "Perhaps we don't create off the dribble. I don't know, but that's a good sign for us if we're sharing the ball. That's just something we do."

The Commodores have totaled 263 assists - 98 more than their opponents - while committing 247 turnovers.

Vandy had lost four straight to Kentucky before a 66-60 home win last Jan. 31. But the Commodores are 0-28 all-time in Rupp Arena and the Wildcats lead the overall series 127-37.

Vandy hasn't won in Lexington since an 82-65 victory at Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 28, 1974.

AllWildcats Top Stories