UK's Tubby Smith impressed by Vandy's hot start

Kentucky men's basketball coach Tubby Smith said Thursday he was very impressed with Vanderbilt's 12-game winning streak to start the season. Smith's Wildcats (9-1) host a Vanderbilt team Saturday that is off to the best start in school history. "They've really been playing extremely well, and playing with a lot of confidence," Smith said.

Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith said Thursday he was very impressed with Vanderbilt's 12-game winning streak to start the season. Smith's Wildcats (9-1) host a Vanderbilt team Saturday that is off to the best start in school history.

"I'm really impressed with Kevin [Stallings] and Vanderbilt," Smith said. "They've really been playing extremely well, and playing with a lot of confidence. That's the key-- if you can get that chemistry, get those guys believing in one another, believing in their system-- the sky's the limit."

Saturday's game vs. No. 20 Vanderbilt marks the Southeastern Conference opener for seventh-ranked Kentucky. The Wildcats, 32-4 overall in 2002-03, were a perfect 16-0 in regular-season SEC play and captured both the regular-season and SEC Tournament championship.

The Commodores, which finished 2002-03 with a 3-13 SEC mark, opened conference play Wednesday with a 59-53 home win over Auburn.

"They've put another win in the win column. They're 12-0," said Smith of the Commodores. "That's a pretty impressive start.

"We know we've got to be prepared, because they have a lot of weapons. They can beat you in a lot of different ways. They have a very deep bench. That's something that keeps guys motivated and keeps guys playing hard. Attitude means so much to the success of any group.

"I'm really impressed with Julian Terrell-- he's really given Vanderbilt some positive, in-depth minutes, playing the way he's been playing. Everybody seems to be clicking and accepting their roles.

"There's not any one thing I would say about them, except they're shooting the ball extremely well. When you're shooting 48, 49 percent from the floor, you're making shots, and that's a big key."

Vanderbilt will be looking for its first win ever in Rupp Arena Saturday. The Commodores have not won in Lexington since 1974, and have been unable to win a game in Kentucky's 23,000-seat arena since its opening in 1976.

The last time the two teams met at Rupp Arena, Kentucky cleaned Vanderbilt's clock to the tune of a 106-44 blowout. Smith downplayed the possibility of any carry-over from that game.

"We played them again in the [SEC] Tournament, and it wasn't a blowout, so we know they're very capable," Smith said. "We know that was one of those games where you throw that one out the window. There's no way we were that bad, and no way we were that good. There's nothing that we can really gain from reminiscing about that game.

"It's a whole new season. The way they're playing this season, they're blowing people out."


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