UK took care of business today in Rupp and sent Vandy home with a larger loss than anyone expected. However, they did allow Vanderbilt to creep back into it at different points and dodged some close shots on their way to victory. Here’s my effort at a game summary and some of the notable quotes following the matchup:
DeMarcus Cousins started off the game with a vengeance, using the same baseline move en route to UK’s first 5 points. After a highlight reel block by John Wall, Cousins nearly got a quite spiffy assist to Patterson but instead caught the rebound from Patterson’s miss and got another three point play. Add to that UK’s early high pressure defense causing Vandy to turn the ball over and you get an idea of the beginnings of this game.
Moving into the late first half, John Wall was able to knock down a couple open threes, answering Jermaine Beal’s late scoring flurry, and UK was able to hit the half time mark with a 49-34 lead. The lead could have been greater if not for UK’s starters getting into early foul trouble, in part due to a bit overzealous referee unit. In the first half, Wall was also able to surpass UK’s all-time freshman assist record and Cousins found a way to put himself back into the national spotlight as a bit of hot head, using a face to face football-esque block (and a bit of a high elbow) to nudge a Vandy player out of the lane.
The second half was marked by double teams for Cousins, which he either muscled through and scored or passed out of and found a wide open Patterson or Wall. Technical fouls were also present on both sides with Kevin Stallings getting one by moving outside of the coaches box and Cousins getting one by disputing a call with the refs. Despite sitting for a large part of the second half due to the technical foul, Cousins was still able to record his 12th double-double of the season, breaking another UK freshman record, with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Vanderbilt made many late moves and cut the lead down to near single digits on multiple occasions but UK seemed to always have an answer in the clutch. John Wall has usually filled that role for the Cats but today it was Darnell Dodson knocking down clutch three pointers and keeping the Cats lead in the teens. Dodson finished with four three pointers and 16 total points.
In the end, the early lead that UK was able to mount behind the offensive performance of DeMarcus Cousins was a bit too much for Vandy to overcome and the Cats handed Vandy their first SEC loss with an 85-72 victory. Jermaine Beal led his team in scoring with 19 points but ultimately couldn’t bring the Commodores back into it.
Player of the Game: Demarcus Cousins
Clutch Performer of the Game: Darnell Dodson
Moment of the Game: LeBron James walking to mid-court to form the “Y” in Kentucky
On the improvement of the team …
“We’ve got a ways to go. We beat a good team. Vanderbilt had won 11 in a row. They remind me of Massachusetts teams, we didn’t have the big, big like they have, but the other guys on that floor were like my UMass guys, their not going to beat themselves. They’re not going to have bad turnovers, you have to grind them out. What we did, I hope you saw today, is we played a little more half court because against South Carolina they held the ball and we shot it quick and what was happening was, we were on defense 75 percent of the time, so now we we’re looking for an easy basket, a layup, a post up, and if it wasn’t there we wanted them to play in the half court, and still their were some errors. But again, we had five almost six guys in double figures scoring, no one shoots it more than 12 times, and a bunch of 10s and 7s, we’re getting balance. You saw that I tried to play Daniel (Orton) and DeMarcus (Cousins) together, which we have to continue to do, I’ve got to spell John like I did, get him time off the court, same with Eric Bledsoe, which is going to get time for Darius (Miller), Darnell (Dodson) or Ramon (Harris), DeAndre (Liggins), whoever wants that time to get in there and play.”
On DeMarcus Cousins’ technical …
“With what he said he deserved the technical. He said he did not touch the ball which I believed but they called it, so I said go to the monitor and check it, but it’s not a play that you can go to the monitor. I thought I might fool them, but they knew that you could not go to the monitor and check the monitor on that kind of play, but he walked off and said what he said and he deserved to get a technical. Do you know how far he has come?’ He got punched in the head today and the official came over and said I should have called it. He did not respond to it. DeMarcus (Cousins) is growing up. He is going to do dumb things at times but out here with all of those young guys, it’s all freshmen stuff.”
On Patrick Patterson’s play …
“He is getting closer. I’m going to work with him everyday. He made 3-4 threes and he was 1-1 from the line. We’ve got to get him catching balls and going after balls with two hands, so he’s a little rougher around the goal, but he is fine. He’s not the reason we didn’t beat South Carolina . It was not Patrick Patterson. Now, he didn’t play great, but eight others guy didn’t and I didn’t coach great. I got out-coached and they got out played and everybody wanted to put it on Patrick (Patterson) which is not fair because he is doing fine. We need more from him and we’re going to start getting more. We’ll make calls for him. He has to be a 17 point 10 rebound guy and get rebounds. Let me say this, he’s the least of our worries.”
On LeBron James being at the game …
“I saw him there. I got to see him a lot around at camps back in high school. It was fun to be able to play in front of him. “
On going to you early in the game …
“It wasn’t really a plan. We didn’t know they were going to come out double teaming like they did. We said we were going to start the offense by running the swing play and if I was open, give me the ball.”
On how the team responded after the game against South Carolina …
“I think we responded well. We did the key things we should do as far as turnovers and getting rebounds, but I think we did good. We got up on them and didn’t let them come back, but in the second half they started to make a run at us, and we started to get into foul trouble. Coach told us that they were a team that wasn’t going to go away. In SEC league play so far, they have been down a lot at the half. We knew they wouldn’t go away easy and they were going to come back and fight hard, but we came up with a tough win.”
On what this win said coming off a tough loss …
“It means that we wanted to come out and prove something. We had a tough game against South Carolina, but they played great, and we know every team is going to play good against us. I wanted to come out and show people that we were not going to back away, and one loss would not keep us down. I think we did that, and we came out here and got a tough win against one of the top teams in the SEC.”
On if you knew LeBron James was in the crowd watching …
“I saw him a few plays in the second half. It was great with him there and Coach Cal knows people like him and that he came out to watch us play. It means a lot for us, but he told us not to try to showboat just because he was there. We just wanted to play basketball.”
On how he felt he played today …
“This was a good game to bounce back from. I was satisfied from the three point line, three for four. They felt good as I was shooting them. I was working on it all week with coach, and I think today we all had an overall team game.”
Vandy’s Jermaine Beal, On a loss after being the only undefeated team in the SEC…:
“We just did not play the way we needed to today. Kentucky came out ready to play. They beat us badly on the boards, and they made their shots. I give props to Kentucky for a good game. They are a good team.”
Vandy’s AJ Ogilvy, On struggling going up against DeMarcus Cousins …:
“Yes it was a good battle, but he is a big strong guy with a lot of athletic ability and I just didn’t play tough enough. He is the biggest, toughest, strongest guy I have played so far this season.”