Now that Saturday is behind us, we can move on and think about the Cats next game. This Wednesday at 8pm on the SEC Network, Kentucky 17-8 (8-4) has a showdown against Eastern Division foe, Vanderbilt 10-14 (4-8). Many of you I'm sure remember the last meeting where the Cats narrowly escaped the confines of Memorial Gym with a 60-58 victory, although it should have been by much more than that. Kentucky had at one point a 16 point lead, but like most every game this season, they somehow found a way to squander it away in the second half allowing Vandy to come all the way back and tie it at 47 all.
Lets take a look at how these teams match-up numbers wise this time around...
PPG: 59 74
RPG: 32 38
APG: 12 14
SPG: 6 6
BPG: 4 7
TPG: 13 13
FG%: 41 48
FT%: 60 65
3P%: 35 36
According to the numbers, Kentucky is well ahead in just about every major statistical category, but thats just according to the numbers. This time around however, there is one major and obvious difference, NO Nerlens Noel. Kentucky had their prized big man last go round and managed to squeak out a 2 point victory.
It would take a blind man to see that this team struggles without Noel on the floor. When these two teams clashed the first time this season, a foul troubled Noel was what led to Vanderbilt's second half come back. Noel left the game in Nashville at the 16:48 mark with foul trouble when the score was 42-27, by the time he re-entered the game at the 6:59 mark, Vandy had knotted it up at 47-47 and was looking to upset the Cats. You saw the same thing this past Saturday in Knoxville, no Noel spelled disaster from the opening tip. Noel was the heart and soul of this team and it's obvious now more than ever.
Will this team come together, work out their differences and play up to the potential that everyone knows they have? Or will they just play the part of the kid who gets pushed down on the playground and is too scared to do anything about it?
One things for sure, they better figure things out in a hurry because there's only 6 games left for them to prove that they are a NCAA Tournament team, because as it stands right now, they're not...