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Vanderbilt

vs.

Kentucky

College Basketball Pick

2/27/16

Kentucky ran into a team desperate for a win last weekend in Texas A&M and that ended its four-game winning streak. That's not to say the Wildcats aren't the best team in the SEC anymore, because they are. Vanderbilt is a team desperate for a big win as well, but can the Commodores match what the Aggies did?

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The first meeting between these teams would say no. Kentucky had no problems en route to a 76-57 win. The difference, however, will be who actually suits up for the Wildcats in this game. Alex Poythress and Derek Willis are both questionable to play and those two combined for 23 points and 11 boards in the first meeting. Without those two, there's no telling how this team will look. Marcus Lee and freshman Isaac Humphries will be forced to play a lot more than usual, that's for sure.

The Wildcats have had trouble on the road all season and if they don't have two regular starters, that may be enough for Vandy to come away with an upset. The Commodores haven't lost at home since their SEC opener against LSU. Since, they have beaten everyone that has come to Nashville with Florida and Texas A&M being the best wins.

Vanderbilt really struggled from the field in the first game, shooting just 32% as Wade Baldwin IV, Luke Kornet and Riley LaChance combined to go 4-of-22 from the field. Obviously, that can't happen again if they want to win.

The Commodores are playing for their tourney lives and a win here would be at the top of their list. An advantage that they didn't fully use in the first meeting is their size. Kornet and Damian Jones are two 7-footers that should be able to do more damage against a UK team undersized in the paint. If Poythress and Willis can't go, that will be an even bigger issue. Another positive for Vandy is that Baldwin likely can't play as bad as he did in the first meeting, as he went 1-of-9 from the field for only seven points, his lowest scoring game of the SEC season. That should help matters.

But on the other end, Vandy still has to deal with one of the best backcourts in the country. Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray combined for 39 points, 10 boards and 7 assists in the first meeting and those two have been playing even better as of late. Those two along with Isaiah Briscoe are going to put in big minutes, like how they all played over 40 minutes at Texas A&M. Without a true threat down low, the guards have to take center stage even more for the Wildcats and that's not exactly a bad thing.

Good things happen for Kentucky when Ulis has the ball in his hands and he'll likely be headed for another big game. For the Wildcats to win on the road, they'll need another 20-plus-point game out of Murray, and that's definitely not out of the question. Murray has been torching as of late (20-plus in seven straight), not only from deep, but also driving to the hoop.

Vandy will be at home with the size advantage against a beat-up UK team, but if Ulis and Murray can't be stopped, the Wildcats could be headed for a nice road win. But the Commodores are desperate and as seen last week, anything can happen for teams that are desperate and playing at home.

Vanderbilt 76 Kentucky 75

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