Skip to content

SEC title game preview: Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

Mar 11, 2012, 8:50 AM EDT

University of Kentucky's Teague lays it up under pressure from Vanderbilt University's Ezeli and Johnson during the second half of play in their NCAA basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington

Theoretically, Vanderbilt would seem to be in a perfect position to knock off Kentucky in the SEC Tournament finals.

The Commodores gave the Wildcats two good games during the regular season. In Memorial Gymnasium, Vandy erased a 13 point halftime deficit to tie the score in the second half before UK pulled away and won by six. At Rupp, the ‘Dores actually had the lead at the break and never let Kentucky pull away from good, eventually losing by just nine.

The reason why is that Vandy matches up fairly well with Kentucky. They are a veteran group with a big, strong center in Festus Ezeli to put a body on Anthony Davis, an athlete the caliber of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in Jeff Taylor and arguably the nation’s best shooter in John Jenkins. The fact that Vandy knows they can play with Kentucky surely will help as well.

Kentucky hasn’t looked dominant in the SEC Tournament, either. After struggling in a win over LSU in the quarterfinal round, Kentucky got pushed to the brink by a Florida team that can get hot and hang with anyone.

The key to beating Kentucky this season is catching them on a night when they aren’t playing their best basketball, and they haven’t been in New Orleans. The good news, however, is that it looks like Terrence Jones had decided that he wants to be the Terrence Jones that just oozes with potential. In both the LSU and Florida games, he was the guy that sparked the run that changed the game. When he comes to play, he makes the Wildcats a completely different team.

Win or lose, Kentucky is going to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. That is about as much of a fact as we have heading into Selection Sunday. The more intriguing question, however, is whether the Wildcats “need to lose”.

The thinking goes like this: when you are dealing with a group of talented youngsters that are sneaking by against teams they should beat the group can get complacent. Bad habits develop, intensity wanes and that is precisely how favorites lose in the NCAA Tournament. A loss would provide a wake-up call, but I don’t buy it.

The last thing a team wants to do is head into the tournament believing they are beatable, and that is precisely what a loss would do. Personally, I would be more worried about the fact that this group of youngsters might get blinded by the bright lights of their first (and only?) NCAA Tournament.

But the bottom line is that if Kentucky is playing their best basketball, they are not going to lose.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Former Memphis forward transferring to Alabama

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    King averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season at Memphis.

  2. Mixtape for Duke’s next point guard, Derryck Thornton (VIDEO)

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline, Under Armor Kelly Kline, Under Armor

    Thornton will fill the void left by Tyus Jones at the point.

  3. Oregon lands four-star Class of 2016 wing

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    Oregon landed a commitment from a former San Diego State pledge.

  4. Maryland guard will return for one more season

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    image

    Maryland returns another reserve guard for next season.

  5. EYBL Day 1: Jayson Tatum vs. Michael Porter Jr.; De’Aaron Fox, Jarred Vanderbilt go for big outings

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    The D1Circuit The D1Circuit

    The opening night of the EYBL had some high-level matchups and a great performance from the Houston Hoops duo of De’Aaron Fox and Jarred Vanderbilt.

  6. POSTERIZED: Class of 2017 four-star guard M.J. Walker throws down on a defender

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    image

    Get out of the way if M.J. Walker is sizing you up for a dunk.

  7. Report: Mark Tollefson transfers to Arizona, eligible immediately

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Kaleb Tarczewski decided to return to Arizona earlier in the day.

  8. Duke raises 2015 national championship banner (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 8.03.53 PM

    The fifth banner is now hanging in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

  9. DePaul loses junior guard, incoming recruit

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    AP AP

    DePaul lost a junior guard and a three-star forward (for the second time) on Friday evening.

  10. Georgia Tech lands Virginia Tech graduate transfer

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    He’ll be able to play immediately.

  11. Shannon Evans transfers to Arizona State, reunites with Bobby Hurley

    Apr 24, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The second team All-MAC guard will have two years of eligibility left.

  12. Florida forward Chris Walker officially entering NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Walker’s career didn’t pan out the way anyone expected, but he’s headed to the pro game after two seasons.

  13. 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Who’s going pro? Who’s returning to school? Who are we still waiting to hear from?

  14. Providence announces return of point guard Kris Dunn for 2015-16 season

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:52 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    A roster that will be both young and talented returns its leader as Dunn will be back for another season.

  15. Five-star guard Malik Newman commits to Mississippi State

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:14 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    It was reported earlier this week that Newman would be headed to Starkville, and he made it official Friday afternoon.

  16. Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski announces return for senior season

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The return of “Zeus” means that Arizona will have one returning starter from last year’s 34-4 team.

  17. UPDATED: 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too-Early Preseason Rankings

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:16 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The return of Buddy Hield pushes previously unranked Oklahoma into our way too early rankings.

  18. Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield returning for senior season

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year has some unfinished business to attend to next season.

  19. Kentucky forward Alex Poythress returning for senior season

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Poythress played in eight games before suffering a torn ACL in practice.