Vanderbilt has a lot to play for. They are playing for No. 2 in the East. Obviously, they have confidence because they beat the No. 1 team in the country in Florida and they have three straight wins over Kentucky, including the one at Rupp Arena in January. Vanderbilt is not going to lay down and let Kentucky win.
Vanderbilt has two very difficult matchups for Kentucky in Byars and Foster. They are both great, athletic players. I think it will take a great effort by Kentucky. It can't just be Randolph Morris or Joe Crawford playing well. It has to be all of those guys plus Ramel Bradley and great production off the bench.
Kentucky has been so inconsistent offensively. They have to establish Randolph Morris early. If they do, then he will rebound, run the court and block shots. He will play more tenacious defense. If you don't get him the ball early, he has a tendency to get frustrated, get lazy and not work as hard. If you get him going early and he's making shots, then hopefully Joe and Ramel can play off him. If they all get going, then everybody else can just fill in and do their part.
My heart says the Cats will win — that will always be the case. But my head tells me Vanderbilt is a very good team. I have seen them play a lot this year and the matchups at the forward positions are terrible for Kentucky. They also have good enough guard play to handle our pressure. They have the key ingredients to beat Kentucky.
I don't want to say Vanderbilt will win, but hard for me to say Kentucky will win. I have a lot of respect for Vanderbilt. They have a good team and coach Stallings has done a great job with them. They are good and I would say at this point that they are No. 2 in the SEC East and Kentucky has to beat them to prove they deserve that spot.