A Quick RecapAlthough Kentucky entered the matchup against Vanderbilt as just a 2-point favorite, it was still surprising to see the game against the Commodores (now 1-4 in the SEC) come as close as it did. The repeated absence of Quade Green, in addition to Tai Wynyard and the ever-allusive Jarred Vanderbilt, continued to hurt the Cats. Luckily, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander once again steadied the ship, leading all scorers with 22 points. He added four rebounds and six assists in his exhausting 39 minutes. Kevin Knox returned to his early-season dominance, contributing 17 points and committing just one turnover. And although he played 28 minutes against the Commodores, he truly came alive in the final four minutes of the game. His jumper with 3:48 remaining pushed Kentucky to a 61-59 lead, followed by a successful free throw that sealed the deal for the Wildcats. Wenyen Gabriel and Hamidou Diallo followed up with scores of their own, sparking a 10-2 run for UK with a minute left in the game. But the unbelievable moment of the game came with just 30 seconds remaining. Diallo committed a potentially-catastrophic mistake, fouling Riley LaChance while he was shooting from behind the three-point line. But Diallo got lucky, as he was bailed out by LaChance's costly error: going 0-3 from the line. The senior is hitting 89 percent from the free-throw line this season, but against Kentucky, he was 0-4.
Nick Richards' continued struggleAfter an energetic opening few minutes, Richards once again struggled in yesterday's victory. In fact, he did not even see much action. The reason? Rebounding. In his 12 minutes, the big man settled for just three boards. After the game, Coach Calipari defended his decision to pull Richards early in the first half due to his lack of rebounding. “I told him after the game, guys, if I stick you in and tell you to rebound, and the first play [you don’t], walk to the bench. Walk to the bench. You don’t have to look to see if I’m taking you out. You know why I’m taking you out. You have to rebound.” In a game where Richards clearly had the size advantage over the Commodores, he failed to take advantage of the opportunity and did not find that assertive, killer attitude we've all been waiting for. For a guy who's nearly 7-feet tall, he appears to shrink under the basket, and opposing teams will always find a way to exploit that weakness. If he wants to re-earn his minutes going forward, Richards has to start muscling under the basket and grabbing those rebounds with two hands.
Up Next: Women's BasketballNow it's time for the ladies of Kentucky Basketball to follow suit: UK Hoops will play Vanderbilt on the road tomorrow. Tip-off is schedule for 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on the SEC Network. After dropping eight consecutive games before defeating Florida last Thursday, the Cats (9-9 on the season, 1-3 in the SEC) are looking to start a winning streak. The Commodores are sitting at the bottom of the conference (0-4 in the SEC), giving Matthew Mitchell and his team the chance to get back on track with a victory.
Titan DownSorry Drew, but the Tennessee Titans were absolutely dominated by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last night. The Pats came away with the 35-14 victory, silencing the Titans who spent the week talking about finally getting their opportunity to hang with the AFC elite. The Tennessee offensive line struggled tremendously, allowing QB Marcus Mariota to be sacked a Patriot playoff record eight times. The victory advances the Patriots to their seventh consecutive AFC championship game. Like the Pats or not (I prefer not), that's a pretty impressive feat. Over in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles fought past the Atlanta Falcons, securing a 15-10 victory. After being dubbed as the underdog, the Eagles decided to accept their position and run with it. Seriously.
Lane Johnson did his postgame interview in the dog mask ðŸ˜‚ðŸ˜‚(via @SheilKapadia, @TheAthleticPHI) pic.twitter.com/Ekv97Lp6sl – Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 14, 2018
West Virginia FallsBob Huggins and his No. 2 West Virginia team were brought down at the hands of No. 8 Texas Tech. The Mountaineers fell 72-71 after losing the 11-point lead they held in the final 13 minutes of the game, thus snapping their 15-game winning streak and ending their hopes of an undefeated season. Senior Mountaineer Jevon Carter led all scorers with 28 points. Now let's see if West Virginia can manage to stay off-balance until Jan. 27 when they take on UK. My guess is probably not ("everybody's Super Bowl," and all that), but a girl can dream.
Well, that's all I have for now. Have a great morning, and Go Cats.