#537 University of Kentucky Wildcatsvs.#538 Vanderbilt University Commodores
Tuesday, January 1 2017, at 7:00pm EST
Written by Benjamin Hayes
No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats (13-2 SU, 11-4 ATS, 10-5 O/U) at Vanderbilt Commodores (8-7 SU, 7-6 ATS, 6-6-1 O/U)
When and Where: Tuesday, Jan. 10, Memorial Gymnasium, Nashville, Tn., 7pmET
Line: Kentucky -11
The Kentucky Wildcats have looked like juggernauts the last three game after falling at Louisville on Dec. 21, 73-70. They defeated Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Arkansas by an average of 30.3 points. Vanderbilt had a two-game winning streak snapped in Tuscaloosa by Alabama, 59-56 on Saturday. Last season, these two teams split with Vandy winning at home by 12.
Kentucky led by just three over Arkansas at half and then exploded in the second half with 56 points to win the game 97-71. They opened the half with a 12-0 run and never looked back. Freshman guard De’Aaron Fox led the way for Kentucky with a career-high 27 points. Senior forward Derek Willis added a season-high-tying 15 points with two blocks. They won big despite star freshman Malik Monk scored just 12 points on 0-5 shooting from the three-point line and going 4-of-10 overall. The Wildcats shot 53.3 percent from the field and outrebounded the Razorbacks 43-30. They also held the Razorbacks to just 39.7 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-16 from beyond the arc (25%).
Kentucky ranks tied for 13th in the nation in turnovers forced with 17 per game. They average 94.2 points per game (2nd), shoot 49 percent from the floor (19th) and 34.9 percent from 3-point range. They allow 71.1 points per game, 40.1 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from beyond the arc (20th). Monk leads in scoring with 21.9 points per game on 51.1 percent shooting (41.5% 3pt). Fox adds 16.3 points and 45.3 percent shooting with 5.1 rebounds per game.
Vanderbilt led Alabama by 14 in the second half as their offense went in a funk. Alabama went on a 17-3, which was led by Alabama guard Ar’mond Davis, who had 12 second-half points (after not playing in the first half). He also hit a corner three off the top corner of the backboard to tied the game at 49 with 8:43 left in the game. Vandy center Luke Kornet led the Commodores with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks but shot just 5-of-17 from the field. Vandy’s defense was stellar, as they held the Crimson Tide to just 31.7 percent from the field but were also outrebounded by 14. The Commodores shot 35.7 percent from the field and were able to stay in the game due to three-point shooting (10-26).
Vanderbilt averages 72.3 points per game and shoots 43.2 percent from the floor (40.3% 3pt). They allow 68.7 points per game and 42.5 percent from the field (36.5% 3pt). Junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis (6-5, 185) leads the Commodores in scoring with 16.9 points per game and shoots 42.1 percent from three-point range. Kornet adds 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds with 2.2 blocks per game.
College Basketball Trends:
Kentucky is the better team but Vandy usually plays them very tough. Even if they don’t beat them at home, they are still getting double digits. The Wildcats are still a young team and Vandy has one of the bigger homecourt advantages in the nation.
Vanderbilt should not only cover this game, but they should also have their pace. That means they’ll try to slow this one down. That doesn’t mean this game will be in the 50’s, but it will be low enough for an under. In the last five meeting between these teams, the under has hit all five games and four straight times from Vanderbilt.
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Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!