Wildcats and Commodores Meet in Nashville in Must-Win SEC Game

Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Commodores, Memorial Gym, Nashville, TN
Saturday, February 11, 2011, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: Vanderbilt -1
Opening Total: 143 1/2
Current Total: 144
Money Line: Vanderbilt -120 / Kentucky +100

The Kentucky Wildcats are a slight underdog at Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon in a crucial SEC battle.

Kentucky and Vanderbilt are part of a SEC logjam of 7 teams that are either 5-4 in conference or 4-5. Even Arkansas is 4-6 in the league. Florida and Alabama both have 2 conference losses. This will make for some interesting tie-breaking scenarios when the SEC tournament starts next month. The SEC is a parity driven league. It makes for some exciting games as any team besides maybe bottom-feeders LSU and Auburn can beat any other team in the league on any given night. It also makes it difficult to handicap this league and its games. That doesn’t stop us from giving you the information you need to make an informed, intelligent play.

Both Kentucky and Vanderbilt are coming off crucial conference wins that they needed. Kentucky beat rival Tennessee at Rupp Arena Tuesday night 73-61 to snap a two game losing streak. Kentucky improved to 17-6 overall and 5-4 in conference. The Wildcats are ranked #18 in both polls. Kentucky has losses to Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Florida. All losses are on the road or at a neutral site. The Wildcats have wins over Oklahoma, Washington, Notre Dame, Indiana, Louisville, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia. Vanderbilt beat Alabama Thursday night in Nashville 81-77 to improve to 17-6 overall and 5-4 in conference. Vanderbilt is ranked #23 in the AP poll and #24 in the ESPN poll. The Commodores have losses to West Virginia, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida. Only the Arkansas loss occured at home, the other losses were on the road or at a neutral site. Vandy has won 2 games in a row. They have wins over Nebraska, North Carolina, Marquette, Davidson, Georgia, ole Miss, Mississippi St, St. Mary’s (CA), and South Carolina.

Kentucky leads the all-time series against Vanderbilt 133-43 and are 52-26 in Nashville. Kentucky has won and covered 3 of the last 4 meetings, including sweeping the series last year.

Kentucky has no significant injuries right now. Kentucky is outscoring opponents 77-63 on the season. Kentucky is a very young team with 5 freshmen among the 10 players on the roster. Three Wildcats score in double figures. Freshman forward Terrance Jones leads the team in scoring with 17.6 ppg, rebounds with 9 a game, and blocks with 2 a game. He also averages 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals a game.   Point guard Brandon Knight is also a freshman and scores 17.3 ppg, averages 4.1 rebounds and leads the team in assists with 3.7 a game. Freshman shooting guard Doron Lamb is averaging  13.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists a game. Darius Miller averages 9.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1 block a game. Junior Guard DeAndre Liggins averages 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and leads the team in steals with 1.5 a game. Josh Harrellson is averaging 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game to lead the team. Kentucky is shooting 45.9% from the field and 40.4% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are holding opponents to 38.4% shooting from the field. The Wildcats are shooting 70.9% from the free throw line. Kentucky averages 39.1 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +5.3. The Wildcats are averaging 13.1 assists and 11.6 turnovers a game. They force 12.9 turnovers a game on defense. Kentucky averages 6 steals and 6.6 blocks a game.

Vanderbilt forward Andre Walker is listed as questionable versus Kentucky  with a foot injury. He hasn’t played since December 29. Vanderbilt is outscoring opponents 78-67 on the season.  The Commodores are shooting 46.3% from the field and 38% from three point range. Vanderbilt is holding opponents to 40.2% shooting from the field. Vanderbilt is shooting 74.7% from the free throw line.Vanderbilt averages 38 rebounds and has a rebounding margin of +3.2. They average 13.8 assists and 14.1 turnovers a game. Vanderbilt forces 12.8 turnovers a game on defense. The Commodores average 5.3 steals and 4.9 blocks a game.  Sophomore guard John Jenkins leads the Commodores in scoring with 19.2 points a game. He also averages 3.3 rebounds, and 1 assist a game and is shooting 40.5% from 3-point range.  Forward Jeffery Taylor averages 15.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and leads the team in steals with 0.9 a game. Center Festus Ezeli averages 12.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and leads the team in blocks with 2.2 a game. Point guard Brad Tinsley averages 10.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists a game to lead the team. Forward Lance Goulbourne averages 7.6 points and 7.6 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.6 assists a game.

These two teams are statistically similar. They are also very inconsistent. They have the talent to compete with any team in the country but they don’t always live up to those expectations.  This should go right down to the wire between two long time rivals  hungry for a win.

our college basketball handicappers are red hot this season. Don’t miss out on any more winners in 2011.

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