Last night, Kentucky got its ninth-straight win over Vanderbilt thanks to some late-game heroics from Davion Mintz. The Cats travel to Nashville on Feb. 17, and at least one Commodore will be out for revenge. After the game, Scotty Pippen Jr. told the Tennessean’s Gentry Estes that Kentucky was his dream school growing up, and not getting an offer from John Calipari only fueled his fire to succeed.
“It’s high praise,” Pippen said of Jon Sundvold’s comment that he was the best player in the game. “I have a chip on my shoulder every time I step on the court. Kentucky was my dream school. I was not heavily recruited. I was a three-star, four-star coming out of high school, at most. I’m trying to prove everyone wrong, coming out with a chip on my shoulder and show that stars don’t matter and that college is the best players on the court competing.”
Pippen finished with 18 points (8-16 FG, 2-4 FT), 8 rebounds, and a game-high 8 assists, and was slicing Kentucky apart in the lane until Jacob Toppin subbed in for BJ Boston in the final five minutes. Calipari called that was the turning point of the game.
“I told the team the reason we won the game is Jacob guarded him, and the only time Pippen got going is when Olivier (Sarr) stood straight up and down and backed away, versus what we were trying to do, which is get up there and square it off. You know, that’s when he scored. But Pippen’s—look, how many (points) did he end up with? Twenty-some? Eighteen? I mean, he’s a good player.”
Like Boston, Pippen attended Sierra Canyon High School, although he graduated before Boston transferred in from his high school in Georgia. Stackhouse said playing at such an elite high school prepared Pippen for big moments, and while Toppin’s defense bothered him in the final minutes, the son of the former NBA great didn’t give in, driving the lane with 1:03 left and drawing the fifth foul on Olivier Sarr. Pippen’s free throws tied the game at 74, and after Mintz hit the game-winning three on the next possession, Pippen drove the lane again only to be met by Toppin, who blocked his shot. Stackhouse predicted a different outcome for next month’s game in Nashville.
“I knew Scotty from his dad, watching him out there in Sierra Canyon. All of a sudden, it just kind of worked out. I came here and he had already committed, so I think it was a situation for him where he had the smarts to be able to get into Vanderbilt and hopefully stick it to Kentucky, a team that didn’t recruit him. It was the way he probably felt. That he could’ve been recruited. Scotty played in a lot of big games in high school. It’s like the stage isn’t that frightening at all. I know he’s going to get them back, like I said, I thought we had a good chance to get them tonight, but we will see them again at our place and hopefully that chip on his shoulder will be even bigger.”