'Dores Face the Wildcats Again
By JEFF MEZYDLO
March 1, 2011
Kentucky believed it should have won at Vanderbilt earlier last month. Based on their recent history at home overall and against the Commodores, the Wildcats should be confident heading into the rematch.
The No. 20 Wildcats look to extend their home winning streak to 34 games with a fourth consecutive victory at Rupp Arena over the No. 21 Commodores in Tuesday night's SEC contest.
Kentucky (20-8, 8-6) shot 46.7 percent and limited talented Vanderbilt forward Jeffery Taylor to four points, but couldn't stop SEC leading scorer John Jenkins from scoring a season-high 32 in an 81-77 loss to the then-No. 23 Commodores on Feb. 12.
"They played good and we played good," Kentucky coach John Calipari told the school's official website. "They're playing better than we did when we were there."
Since then, Kentucky has won three of four and has a chance to move into a second-place tie with Vanderbilt (21-7, 9-5) in the SEC East as both schools try to claim a bye into the conference tournament quarterfinals.
"We definitely want to beat them," Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson said. "We feel like we owe them something because they beat us down there. Hopefully we can come back and get a 'W' at our house."
The way the Wildcats have dominated at home of late, that's very much possible.
Though the Commodores have won six of seven overall and three straight on the road, they have not won at Rupp since Jan. 20, 2007. Kentucky has not lost a home game since falling 90-85 to Georgia on March 4, 2009.
In order to further both streaks, the Wildcats likely have to stop Jenkins (19.5 points per game).
"He's a great player," Kentucky's leading scorer Brandon Knight said.
Though the sophomore guard shined against the Wildcats earlier this month, he's totaled 28 points the last two games overall and was held to 10 in an 85-72 loss at Kentucky on Jan. 30, 2010.
Knight, meanwhile, scored 20 points at Vanderbilt and averaged 19.6 the last five games. The freshman had 16 points with six assists in a 76-68 win over No. 14 Florida on Saturday. His backcourt mate Darius Miller posted a career-high 24 in that contest.
Miller is averaging 10.9 points this season but 18.0 on 53.2 percent shooting the last four games.
"I think he's one of the most complete players in the league," Florida coach Billy Donovan said of Miller. "I think the biggest difference for him from earlier in his career to now is he's really improved his shooting and now when you press up on him, he can go by you."
Miller, however, has totaled 19 points in five games versus Vanderbilt, shooting 7 for 24 (29.2 percent).
The Commodores could need Taylor (14.5 ppg) to put together consecutive strong games if they are to be competitive in this contest.
Over the last five games, Taylor has scored 20 points twice - including Saturday's 90-69 rout of LSU - but been held under 10 in each of the other three.
"It was nice that everything came together and I had a good game," Taylor said of his last contest.
The junior has totaled 25 points in two games at Kentucky.