Three Keys Revisited: Vandy at Kentucky

Kedren Johnson (VM-Stan Jones)

As determined and focused as Vanderbilt were at Rupp Arena on Wednesday night it was not quite enough to take down a Kentucky team that played as if they knew their season depended on a victory. Here is a look back at the three keys to see what went wrong.

As determined and focused as Vanderbilt were at Rupp Arena on Wednesday night it was not quite enough to take down a Kentucky team that played as if they knew their season depended on a victory. Sometimes it is as simple as playing the wrong team on the wrong night, and though Vandy certainly had its chances against a team still learning to play without Nerlens Noel the Wildcats looked like a different team in their second outing without the best shot blocker in the country. Here is a look back at the three keys to see what went wrong.

1) Attack the basket

Attacking the basket had mixed results for the 'Dores. On the plus side, starting center Josh Henderson matched his career high with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while forward Rod Odom continued his scoring tear from all areas of the court with 16 points of his own. On the negative side, the game proved to be a coming out party of sorts for Noel's replacement in the Wildcat lineup Willie Cauley-Stein. The 7-foot freshman scored a career high 20 points, but his biggest plays were a pair of late blocks which sealed the Kentucky win. Cauley-Stein rejected Kyle Fuller and Kedren Johnson within 9 seconds of each other for two of his three swats on the night.

2) Win the battle of the boards

After Kentucky was dominated on the glass by Tennessee (39-21) there was always going to be a reaction. That reaction was enough to see the Wildcats finish this contest with a 34-29 rebounding edge over the Commodores. As in most areas on the night Cauley-Stein was the man pacing the Cats as he picked up 10 rebounds, including three vital ones on the offensive glass. Those extra possessions were enough to hold Vandy at bay during their comeback and eventually close out the game.

3) Win the point guard assist battle

Vandy got seven assists out of point guard Kedren Johnson which is just one short of his season high. When you add in the 17 points that Johnson put up it is easy to argue that he was far and away the best guard on the floor. The Kentucky ball handlers on the other hand distributed the work with starters Julius Mays, Ryan Harrow, and Archie Goodwin combining for 13 assists and 37 points. As good as Johnson is, he really needs more help over the last few games of the season.

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