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It’s Hard for Vandy to Win Without Luke Kornet

Kornet contests Tyler Ulis’ shot at Rupp Arena, via UK Athletics.

Kornet contests Tyler Ulis' shot at Rupp Arena, via UK Athletics.

Cornet contests (but does not block) Tyler Ulis’ shot at Rupp Arena, via UK Athletics.

Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet is a perplexing player.  The 7-foot center doesn’t play like a 7-foot center.  Well, kinda.

Kornet is an agile 7-footer, playing more offensively as a stretch-four on the perimeter.  Kornet has a good looking jumper, knocking down about 30% of his 3-pointers.  He has an OK hook shot too, but the dude likes to stay away from the paint, unless it’s on defense.

Kornet is the SEC’s leading shot-blocker with 2.9 blocks per game.  He has four or more blocked shots in nine games this season, including Tuesday’s win at Florida.  He set a school record earlier this year with 10 blocks against Auburn.  Grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game, Kornet is a formidable interior defender.

Vandy doesn’t need his defense to win, Damian Jones can pick up the slack, but they struggle without his scoring.  In the 11 games that Kornet has scored in double-figures this season, the Dores are 8-3.  To contrast, when he hasn’t played or scored in single-digits, they’re one game above .500 at 9-8.  One of those wins was an overtime victory over Stony Brook; one of those losses was at Kentucky.

What’s made him successful is that few opponents have a player with his length and athleticism.  Plenty of teams have dealt with players like Riley LaChance or Wade Baldwin, but you rarely see somebody like Kornet.  That’s not the case with Kentucky.  The Cats’ frontcourt has struggled against bruisers, but they have the length and athleticism (Lee, Poythress, even Skal) to guard guys like Kornet.

If the Cats take Kornet out of his offensive game and put pressure on the perimeter, it’ll be interesting to see where Vanderbilt can find enough offense to win.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR