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10 Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win At Vanderbilt


Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky is now 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference and 14-3 overall after traveling down to Nashville to beat Vanderbilt, 74-67, on Saturday. The Cats played with only seven scholarships available for a second straight game; and for a second straight game, they made the plays down the stretch to escape with a tough victory.

Ten takeaways from the W:

 

Riley LaChance choked at the foul line.

Of all the storylines from the game, the one that sticks out most is Vanderbilt’s reliable senior missing three consecutive free throws while down four late in the game. LaChance is an 89-percent shooter from the stripe and he was gifted a trip to the line to potentially cut his team’s deficit to one. If he makes those, who knows how everything plays out? Maybe Vandy wins it in the end. But he didn’t, and Hamidou Diallo’s inexplicable foul (after UK’s inexplicable turnover) is forgotten. Diallo owes LaChance a thank you card — as do I for other reasons, of the gambling nature.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander solidified his spot as the best player on the team.

I don’t think it’s up for debate any longer: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best player on Kentucky’s roster. He led the team in scoring once again with a game-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, plus four rebounds and six assists, in 39 minutes played. It was assumed Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo would be the two most important players on the team, but Gilgeous-Alexander is that guy. He’s always been the best defender, and now he’s the best weapon on offense too.

Wenyen Gabriel is the unsung hero once again.

Gabriel did what he does in every game: he scrapped, clawed and battled to come up with some of the biggest rebounds, loose balls and defensive stops in the game. The shot wasn’t falling again in this one, but he’s not going to leave the court when he is doing everything else.

“Wenyen was ridiculous again today,” Coach Cal said on his postgame show. “His energy and him going and battling for balls and what he does… I told the kids after the game, he was unbelievable.”

Nobody on the team has listened to Calipari’s toughness message more than Gabriel. He’s a fighter and a hustler, and he’s getting more and more confidence in himself with his good play.

Do we give up on Nick Richards?

I don’t know what to make of Nick Richards. The big man started off with more energy than we’ve seen from him in over a month, but then he quickly disappeared before having any kind of an impact on the game. This was the perfect opportunity for him to put up some numbers and find some confidence against a weak Vanderbilt frontcourt; instead he took a seat in the second half and never returned to the game, playing only 12 minutes the entire evening, 11 of which were in the first half. How much longer until we say ‘see ya next year’?

Quade Green needs to return soon.

The Cats survived two huge challenges without their starting point guard, but they can’t be expected to keep doing it. With Green on the bench in street clothes, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has had to play 39 minutes in each of Kentucky’s last two games, while Hamidou Diallo played 34 against Texas A&M and then 39 against Vanderbilt. That’s too much to ask of the backcourt, although they’ve handled it well. Come back soon, Quade.

Late game mistakes still a problem.

However, it’s not enough of a problem to cost them the game. As they did against A&M in Rupp, the Cats handed their opponent an opportunity when the game should’ve been out of reach for good. And again the opponent didn’t capitalize as UK was able to close out a victory in spite of freshman mistakes.

We’ll take it.

Hamidou Diallo made a HUGE three-pointer.

Diallo still had his Diallo moments, but he hit the dagger in the corner to stretch the lead to eight points with a little over a minute to go. If not for that shot I’d probably be crushing him for playing too much Hami-ball and that horrible foul on LaChance.

Kevin Knox got back to his old ways.

Knox was second in scoring with 17 points for Kentucky. He made some big baskets when Vanderbilt was climbing back and he was perfect from the line in the game. It seems he’s over whatever bug bit him when he looked lost and unconformable during his minor slump, and it’s great to see him back.

P.J. Washington flirted with a double-double.

Washington had 10 points and eight rebounds against the Commodores, but not enough to earn praise from his head coach because Calipari called it an “off-day” for Washington.

Not a bad off-day, huh?

I have Washington up there with Gilgeous-Alexander in the importance rankings, ahead of Knox and Diallo.

Road wins are good wins, especially this year.

With the SEC beating each other up this season, any road win in the conference is a good one. For Kentucky, they won another hard-fought test in a hostile building, and they did it without their starting point guard.

On to the next one…

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

43 responses to “10 Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win At Vanderbilt”

  1. big cat

    Mine are somewhat different…maybe just two observations: 1) ESPN needs to retire Dickie V…soon. He’s horrible and 2) Ashley looks like a DIFFERENT Ashley…

    1. herm89

      Still would

    2. EdC

      3) Ashley seen is better than Ashley heard.

    3. KYcats11

      Better than Dukie Jay, and a few others.

    4. ClutchCargo

      Dukie V’s voice is getting weak enough that I can tune it out now. But yes, he is horrible.

    5. CPACAT

      Get a Sports Sync Radio, listen to UK broadcast synched up to TV

    6. ClutchCargo

      Sports Synch is no good if you watch slightly delayed so you can FF through commercials.

    7. unbridled

      I just sync the tv to iHeartRadio played from my phone to my sound system. It’s the only way to watch. Time leach and mike Pratt are the best in the business.

  2. Blue_Mist

    I would add that the game was amazingly well officiated for a Vandy game. There may have been a few missed calls, but I think they went both ways. I’m accustomed to us getting reamed down there. (… and Tony Greene is usually not our friend either)

    1. ClutchCargo

      Agreed. No Memorial Magic this time.

  3. az1006

    My issue with Kevin Knox isn’t his final stat-line…It’s that he could still do SO MUCH more. It seems as though he just disappears for long stretches, then goes nuts for 4-5 minutes. I don’t expect him to play that way all the time, but just needs to get more consistent.

    1. EdC

      At least Knox got inside and mixed it up more this game. Not as much as I think the team needs him to but at least he took some contact and succeeded at it even if it did look awkward.

    2. ClutchCargo

      Why “give up” on anybody at this point, especially a freshman? Bad take!

    3. ClutchCargo

      Reply fail… wrong comment.

  4. UKLugo

    Tttt. Stop being so hard on these guys! Just enjoy the ride. GOOOSSSSHHHH!!

  5. babydangy

    “Do we give up on Nick Richards” No you don’t give up on him. This website did the same thing with Gabriel last year and it hurt his confidence. Despite what many of the morons on this site and Twitter think, players see this crap. Richards has hit a freshmen wall it happens it doesn’t mean you give up on him damn.

    1. Luether

      Richard’s is playing like he’s given up on the Team and himself. I’ve seen more fight in a dead dog…

    2. catsarerunnin

      Your dog didn’t die. It ran away for obvious reasons.

    3. Smyrna_Cat

      Bad, bad writing to suggest we “give up” on a freshman big man. Perhaps we should “give up” on KSR writers that can’t spell our understand grammar.

    4. unbridled

      Never give up on a player. His playing time should be adjusted though. Nothing personal at all. Coach cal just needs to find the most impactful players to win games. I don’t think Richards qualifies at this time.

  6. nicky

    Shout out to LaChance the rapper for missing his FT’s!

  7. EdC

    Agreed that UK needs Green back BUT I would think that pretty much everybody but Green’s mother and Cal see that he isn’t the leader and SGA should be starting. SGA isn’t the 5 star and Cal will keep protecting Green just like he did Andrew Harrison over Ulis but as long as SGA keeps getting more minutes maybe it doesn’t matter.

    1. KayutsBy90

      I agree abut SGA but you can’t argue that our offense runs a lot smoother when the two of them are on the court at the same time.

    2. unbridled

      Andrew Harrison played because he was the better point guard at the time. Man you sound ignorant.

  8. Angelo

    Honestly now I record… live is lame…

  9. cherryDiesel

    Let’s be real, Washington is so bad right now he is bringing down the team. That the cats won in spite of how many minutes he played is remarkable. He’s got some game but mostly he is just bad defense, turnovers and unwarranted excessive flexing celebration.

    He’s going to be around for a few more years so hopefully he’ll get it together and start playing better, until then I think Cal just has to keep finding ways to win around him

    1. Curtis Lowe

      I am speechless

    2. BBNDan7

      You got anymore of those drugs?

    3. dano

      Yeah…That whole 10 Pts, 8 REB’s and 2 asst’s against Baptiste who had 2 pts and 4 rebs. Yep. Awful.

    4. dballrb

      👍

    5. CATandMONKEY

      Of all the horrible and ignorant takes ever posted on a KSRthread; this may take the cake.

    6. Mathlete

      I’m not sure you know this, but you’re really bad at analyzing basketball. Like… Stunningly bad. PJ is an outstanding player, he plays with brains, grit, and skill. He’s a little undersized for a 5, but he’s a great 4.

    7. cherryDiesel

      I love the disagreement here y’all it’s what makes being a fan fun.

      But for serious Washington isn’t cut out out for the NBA, hope I’m wrong, not the end of the world, just an outlier from the cats recent success with highly heralded recruits & a distinction btw him and most the other players in his class.

      He dunks well off the baseline, I’ll leave it at that.

    8. BGLawdog

      Washington was awful yesterday. He has carried our team through several games though. He gave up countless layups yesterday (repeatedly letting men blow past him in the zone) and his turnovers were virtually inexcusable. It was his worst game of the season, without question.

    9. cherryDiesel

      The Kansas game was a lot worse, but I’ve made my point, I’m pretty sure Cal will coach him up, he’s gonna have to play a lot of minutes, and as Cal says ‘I can’t hide you’

  10. BBNBRIAN

    Am I the only person reminded of the movie “Stand By Me” every time the name “LaChance” is mentioned?

    1. Mathlete

      Remember when LaChance and Fisher-Davis were going head to head against Rupp’s Runts? Those were some great games.

  11. dano

    I think we are used to having a couple of “veteran” key players in the back court that settle the team when things are going south. We are also used to having around 5 players on the bench ready to step in and play against a soft SEC. Right now, none of what we are used to is the same. SEC is stronger, and we have struggled against big front courts. The “muscle” for UK is in limbo as Vanderbilt sits. There is no veteran leadership to call a timeout instead of trying to inbound a pass that resulted (luckily) in 3 missed FT’s.

    They have come a long way since Nov, but have a long way to go.

  12. Aar

    Cal strongly believes that short rotations win championships. Right now he has the shortest rotation he’s ever had at UK. That raises a few questions for me: Will more playing time together clean up the end of game challenges? Will Richards find a way to get in rhythm with the other six and bring his unique gifts more consistently? How much will certain players starting to play after injury disrupt the chemistry these six have together? Looking forward to watching these questions answer themselves from now through April!

  13. Ez21

    Some of you all need to keep in mind this is the youngest group we’ve had yet they still find ways to come up with the plays down the stretch to win most every game. Until we look as tho we have it, then proceed to attempt to give it away anyway. However, the other teams haven’t made the plays to win. That won’t continue, however I also don’t think we continue to make these bonehead mistakes game after game late.

  14. sincitycat

    The odds of an eighty-nine percent shooter missing three straight free throws is about one in a thousand. The odds for missing four straight are about one in ten thousand. Thanks Riley.

  15. dballrb

    Vandy staff forgot to ratchet down the tention on the rim at halftime.

    1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Nah. We slipped Lachance the loaded Globetrotter wobbly ball.