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Kentucky

vs.

Vanderbilt

College Basketball

Pick

1/13/18

On paper, this looks like an easy win for Kentucky going against a team with a 6-10 record, but there’s a little more to it. For starters, the Wildcats haven’t had an easy conference game yet with three wins by a combined nine points to go with the loss at Tennessee. There’s no reason this will be any different, especially if Quade Green misses out again, who’s dealing with a back injury.

The Commodores aren’t a good team this season, but always seem to put up a fight at home against Kentucky, no matter the situation. When the Cats won the national title in 2012, this was one of their harder games, winning by just six points. Vandy already beat Alabama at home this year and could’ve taken down Tennessee on Tuesday, but let a 10-point halftime lead slip away. This one should be competitive, although expecting Vanderbilt to win may be a stretch.

Even if Green doesn’t play, the Wildcats should be just fine with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander running point because he’s played all but three minutes in the last two games. Kentucky doesn’t rank exceptionally well in many categories outside of defensive three-point percentage, but the length of this team will automatically be a problem for the Vandy offense. The ‘Dores are below average in shooting the ball and that’s already a bad sign for this game.

They have experienced seniors in Jeff Roberson, Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis that led them to the tournament a year ago, but that trio simply hasn’t done enough this season. Both LaChance and Fisher-Davis are shooting at worse rates than a year ago and that’s likely a reason they have so many close losses. Freshman Saben Lee has been impressive in recent games averaging more than 20 points in the last three and will be needed to come through again. Vandy has the tools to steal this game at home, but that’ll only happen if it can hit shots and that’s going to fall mainly on Fisher-Davis and LaChance. The issue is that UK allows less than 30 percent from beyond the arc, which isn’t great news for Vandy.

On the other end, the ‘Dores don’t force turnovers and commit a lot of fouls and that’s not going to help, either. But while Kentucky has plenty of size, that doesn’t make this a team that’s going to bang around down low, which is good news for Vandy. Between freshman Kevin Knox and guys like Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones, the Wildcats are built with athletic bigs, not bigs that are going to dominate the paint like in previous seasons. If there are any good things to takeaway from this matchup, that may be it.

The problem is that Kentucky still has size at position with Gilgeous-Alexander at 6-6 and Hamidou Diallo at 6-5. That’s not going to help Roberson and LaChance, who both come in at 6-foot-2. The Commodores will undoubtedly put up a fight and make this another close game at home, but as seen in their previous 16 games, they don’t have a complete enough roster to take on a team like Kentucky. With only four players that average more than five points, it’s going to be hard for Vandy to score at a consistent rate.

Our Pick - Kentucky -3

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