Following an underwhelming victory over Texas A&M, the Kentucky Wildcats will try to win back-to-back conference games for the first time this season, when they host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday.
Kentucky is 11-3 this season and has split its first two SEC matchups for the year. Although the team’s win against the Aggies was a great way to rebound from losing to the Crimson Tide, the Wildcats haven’t shown they can play a complete game just yet.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Kentucky’s struggles have been the inability to defend the three-point line.
If this flaw for the Wildcats reoccurs tomorrow, then Matt Ryan of the Commodores could have himself an offensive outburst on the road. The junior forward is averaging 10.2 points per contest on 37.8 percent shooting from downtown.
One of the best ways to avoid a shootout with Vanderbilt will be to dominate the boards early and continue to increase Ashton Hagans’ minutes. The lockdown defender has 19 steals over his past four contests.
The overall talent on Kentucky’s roster should overwhelm Vanderbilt, especially with Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson playing at a very high level.
Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, any optimism for this year went down the drain when Darius Garland tore his meniscus. Without him for the remainder of the season, the Commodores don’t have their leading scorer or top playmaker.
Just how well is @H23Ash playing recently? We're glad you asked. ?
? Career-high scoring in each of the last three games
? First Wildcat since Cliff Hawkins in 2003-04 with at least three steals in four straight games
? Ranked second in the SEC with 2.07 steals per game pic.twitter.com/BmCOCnKbXQ
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 10, 2019
Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. ET from Rupp Arena.
The game will be available on the SEC Network with Dave Neal and Daymeon Fishback on the call.