The spread was 12 points but Vanderbilt kept it much closer than that throughout the game. It looked at times as if Kentucky was going to steamroll the struggling Commodores, but it wasn’t to be so. Kevin Stallings and company smelled blood in the water and knew Kentucky was not a confident basketball team after such a terrible week. An upset at Rupp Arena would have been devastating and would have effectively ended the season. Luckliy, Willie Cauley-Stein decided to have his best game as a Wildcat and Archie Goodwin broke out of his funk.
Kentucky needed everything they could muster to put Vandy away. Willie Caule-Stein led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Archie Goodwin wasn’t far behind with 16 points and Ryan Harrow decided to play a little point guard as well. He added 12 points as well as four assists and zero turnovers.
Guard play was becoming a worry for Kentucky but Goodwin and Harrow stepped up when the Wildcats needed them the most.
Still, even though there were improvements, there were still some worrisome stats.
Kentucky shot only 57% from the free throw line and 33.3% from the three-point line. They out rebounded Vanderbilt but only 34-29 despite having a decided height advantage.
The bench for Kentucky really didn’t add much tonight. Granted, the fact that Cauley-Stein is now a starter does hurt their bench, but Kyle Wiltjer has to add more than seven points and 2-5 from the field. Wiltjer had been the catalyst that sparked the ‘Cats off the bench, but he didn’t play that role tonight.
Also, Kentucky let Vanderbilt score 70 points while they have only been averaging 59.1 a game.
I’m happy with the win, especially after what we have witnessed from the team recently, but what I saw didn’t give me the confidence boost that I wanted. Vanderbilt is a terrible team. I know they were probably looking to beat Kentucky in order to put some type of signature on their season, but the Wildcats are more talented even without Nerlens Noel on the team.
But there were many positives. They need to expand on them before Missouri comes to town on Saturday.