Skip to content

Interior play pushes No. 14 Kentucky past Vanderbilt

Jan 11, 2014, 6:13 PM EST

calipari AP

Given how young No. 14 Kentucky is, with just one upperclassman (Jarrod Polson) part of the playing rotation, there were bound to be growing pains during non-conference play. And there are still some lessons to be learned by this group as the move deeper into SEC play with an eye towards the NCAA tournament. Saturday’s 71-62 win at Vanderbilt likely provided another lesson, one that focuses on where the Wildcats need to get the ball if they’re to be at their best offensively.

On an afternoon that saw the Wildcats shoot 6-for-22 from beyond the arc, Kentucky won due to their work in the paint and on the offensive glass. With Andrew Harrison (four offensive rebounds) and Julius Randle (six; all in the first half) combining to grab ten of Kentucky’s 18 offensive rebounds, the Wildcats corralled nearly 44% of their missed shots. And while they only scored 15 second chance points the impact of those extra opportunities can add up for a team if they lack depth as Vanderbilt does.

Add in 36 points in the paint and 12 more free throw attempts, and Kentucky was able to win despite shooting poorly from beyond the arc and the foul line (13-for-22). With Randle, a center in Willie Cauley-Stein (15 points, six rebounds) who seems to improve by the game and a forward in Alex Poythress (nine points) who played with an intensity that he struggled to produce earlier this season in the front court, the Wildcats can be a very difficult team to slow down in the painted area. And that’s before mentioning the penetration ability of the Harrison twins and James Young.

But they can only take advantage of this if they become “greedier” offensively. By that I don’t mean guys going for theirs at the expense of their teammates, but rather being attack-minded and not settling for perimeter jumpers. That was still an issue at times on Saturday, and for a team that entered the game shooting just 29.8% from beyond the arc it may be best to limit those shots despite the presence of players who have the ability to make three-pointers. Why? Because they’re much tougher to slow down when aggressive looking to get into the middle of the floor by way of the pass or dribble penetration.

It should also be noted that there were also stretches in which Kentucky did a better job of not simply taking what was dictated to them offensively, and their three primary perimeter options (the Harrison twins and Young) combined for ten assists to just three turnovers. Already among the nation’s best when it comes to hitting the offensive glass, there’s still room for Kentucky to grow on that end of the floor. And if they can take those steps, the Wildcats will improve their chances of winding up where many projected them to before the season began.

Latest Posts
  1. Austin Nichols hits a game-winner, Memphis coach Josh Pastner dances (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:05 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    I feel comfortable saying I’m a better dancer than Josh Pastner. Not by much, though.

  2. Saturday’s Snacks: No. 18 West Virginia, Georgetown win absolute thrillers

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:58 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Get caught up on everything that has happened in college basketball on Saturday.

  3. Northwestern State staff wears special pants for ‘Suits and Sneakers’ game against McNeese State (PHOTO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:34 PM EST

    Patrick Netherton Patrick Netherton

    The pants worn by the coaching staff were one of the highlights in Northwestern State’s 92-68 win over McNeese State.

  4. #POSTERIZED: Memphis’ Markel Crawford dunks on Tulane defender (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:31 PM EST

    Central Florida v Memphis Central Florida v Memphis

    Crawford and his teammates are looking to rebound from the 18-point loss they suffered at Tulsa Wednesday night.

  5. Central Connecticut State beats Wagner on Brandon Peel’s buzzer-beating three (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:20 PM EST

    CCSU Athletics CCSU Athletics

    Peel finished the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as the Blue Devils picked up their first win in NEC play.

  6. No. 21 Baylor beats No. 19 Oklahoma, should we be concerned about the Sooners?

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:34 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Baylor really needed this win, but Oklahoma has now lost three of their last four.

  7. Balanced effort moves William & Mary into tie for first in the CAA (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 7:20 PM EST

    William & Mary v North Carolina William & Mary v North Carolina

    The Tribe bounced back from a loss at Delaware earlier in the week to move into a tie for first in the CAA.

  8. Slow start dooms No. 9 Iowa State as they lose at Texas Tech

    Jan 24, 2015, 6:46 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwrjywuxywyyywu3mjy5mddjotbkn2i1nzqynjq3zdhk AP

    Texas Tech hit its first five three-pointers and led by as many as 19 points in the first half of their 78-73 win over the Cyclones.

  9. No. 11 Kansas makes a statement blowing out No. 17 Texas

    Jan 24, 2015, 4:52 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “We are still the best team in the Big 12″ — Kansas, on Saturday.

  10. #POSTERIZED: Marquette’s Derrick Wilson with a surprising poster (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:14 PM EST

    Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 3.10.44 PM

    Wilson dunks all over Georgetown’s Paul White.

  11. Iowa star Aaron White suffers ‘stinger’ in shoulder against Purdue

    Jan 24, 2015, 1:53 PM EST

    Traevon Jackson, Aaron White

    White is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Hawkeyes.

  12. WATCH LIVE: Northeastern visits William & Mary on NBCSN

    Jan 24, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Richmond Northeastern Basketball AP

    Northeastern and William & Mary clash on NBCSN.

  13. Baylor awards two walk-ons with scholarships (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 12:15 PM EST

    2014 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Basketball Tournament Baylor v Illinois Getty Images

    Walk-ons receiving scholarships will never get old.

  14. WATCH LIVE: Drexel hosts College of Charleston on NBCSN

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:30 AM EST

    AP AP

    The College of Charleston battles Drexel in a CAA clash on NBCSN.

  15. Pitt wing will have shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Pittsburgh v Indiana Getty Images

    Pitt will officially be without a wing for the rest of the season.

  16. Maryland, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Wichita State will get ‘Hard Knocks’ treatment in new all-access show

    Jan 24, 2015, 10:15 AM EST

    VMI v Maryland Getty Images

    Four of the top programs in college basketball will allow Showtime to film them extensively for a new all-access show that is supposed to be similar to HBO’s popular football series “Hard Knocks.”

  17. Pregame Shootaround: Two top-25 matchups in the Big 12 leads a big day of college hoops

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    Oklahoma v Kansas Getty Images

    A big day of hoops features some more top-25 games between Big 12 opponents.