For the second time this season (two weeks, really), Kentucky overcame a sizable halftime deficit to beat Vanderbilt. For the fourth year in a row, the Cats fans who came to Memorial Gym made it their own and left with a victory, a sentiment made even sweeter by Saturday’s win over the Vols in Knoxville. Eat it, state of Tennessee. We own you.
We’ve had a lot of coverage of Kentucky’s 78-64 comeback win on the site, but allow me to weigh in since I made the trek across town and, ultimately, up several flights of stairs to the Crow’s Nest, Vanderbilt’s decrepit press box. But hey, lots of electricity!
— When Tyrese Maxey is on, he’s on. Maxey was Kentucky’s only offense for most of the first half, and was excellent in the second, finishing with 25 points (including a career-high 10 field goals), four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Over the past few weeks, John Calipari has been challenging Maxey to be tougher and play smarter, and last night, the freshman responded.
“The best thing that happened is for the first time this year, Tyrese Maxey played with a toughness to win, vs. just playing basketball,” Calipari said afterwards. “Now you have to understand I’ve been all over this and all over him and not settling. That was a good sign.”
In the locker room, Calipari had plenty of praise for Maxey, but warned him that he’s not backing down. As Cal would say, last night, Maxey told on himself.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 12, 2020
— As we’ve seen time and time again this season, Kentucky was able to get back on track in the second half thanks to Nick Richards. Richards had 15 points and 7 rebounds, and his three blocks in the first 2:05 of the second half sparked the Cats’ rally. Kentucky is 18-1 this season when Richards scores in double figures.
— For all the grief Ashton Hagans has taken recently, he looked like his old self in the second half last night. Not only did he have only one turnover after totaling 18 over the four games prior, he flirted with a triple double, finishing with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.
— Once again, Immanuel Quickley was clutch, earning the nickname “Big Balls” from Calipari. His three threes in the second half were huge, and the one after he was slammed to the ground on a baseline drive proves he is tough as nails. Quickley has scored in double figures in 13 straight games, surpassing PJ Washington’s streak of 12 from last season. While Kentucky fans were thrilled to see IQ after the game, this Vandy security guard was not amused:
— Speaking of Quickley, the stat of the night to me was free throws. Kentucky was 16-19 (84.2%) from the charity stripe compared to Vandy’s 9-17 (52.9%) mark. That bodes well for March.
— EJ Montgomery didn’t grab headlines like the Big Four, but he turned in another promising performance, with six points — including four free throws during Kentucky’s second half rally — nine rebounds, and three blocked shots.
— How great were those “Go Big Blue” chants? The 6 p.m. CT start made for a late-arriving crowd, but the amount of blue that gets into Memorial Gym never ceases to amaze me. Kentucky fans made their presence known early and often, chanting “Go Big Blue” from before tipoff to almost every big possession in the second half. The team noticed.
“When we walked out, there was a lot of blue,” Ashton Hagans said. “And then they were chanting at the beginning of the game and it kind of felt like a home game when they were getting loud but we just try to stick with each other and try to keep it going.”
With two minutes to go, I made my way from the Crow’s Nest down to the court and stood by as the Cats received a heroes’ welcome on their way to the locker room:
Kentucky fans greet the team as they leave court after beating Vanderbilt 78-64 pic.twitter.com/fgl5sOUxpo
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) February 12, 2020
— Vanderbilt sells beer at games now, and while I was working, my husband partook. He reported back that it was a lovely experience, with even those drinking near the court behaving themselves. Imagine that!
Just standing patiently in the Vandy Basketball beer line. Great attitude on all sides. Shiny happy people pic.twitter.com/29nVsbq0Qi
— MrTT (@MrTylerKSR) February 12, 2020
One day, friends. One day.
Updated SEC Standings
Missouri gave LSU a scare in Baton Rouge last night, but ultimately, Will Wade’s team held on for the win. The Cats and the Tigers are currently tied for first place in the SEC, with Auburn playing tonight.
Here’s tonight’s college basketball schedule:
- 6:30 PM: South Carolina vs. Georgia, SEC Network
- 6:30 PM: #23 Creighton vs. #10 Seton Hall, FS1
- 6:30 PM: Xavier vs. #19 Butler, CBS Sports Network
- 7:00 PM: #3 Kansas vs. #14 West Virginia, ESPN+
- 7:00 PM: Alabama at #11 Auburn, ESPN2
- 8:00 PM: #5 Louisville vs. Georgia Tech, ACC Network
- 8:30 PM: #18 Marquette vs. #15 Villanova, FS1
- 8:30 PM: Florida vs. Texas A&M, SEC Network
- 9:00 PM: #20 Houston vs. South Florida, ESPNU
Shifting gears to football…
Vince Marrow Watch begins again
In case you missed the breaking news in the post below this one, sources tell KSR that Michigan State’s new head coach Mel Tucker is coming after Vince Marrow to be his lead recruiter. The two are reportedly close friends that both have strong ties in the state of Ohio. We’ll have more on this story as it develops throughout the day, but for now, cross your fingers and hope that the Big Dog stays put.
The media meets the Mid-Year Enrollees
Need a football fix? Over the next two days, the media will have the opportunity to interview Kentucky’s 12 mid-year enrollees. As we speak, Nick Roush is wrapping up interviews with Beau Allen, Sam Anaele, Kalil Branham, Joey Gatewood, D’Eryk Jackson, and walk-on Tyler Malin, so tuned to KSR for plenty of gridiron content along with the latest on Vince Marrow.
KSR Dog of the Day
Meet Tabasco, a five-month-old Corgi pup who loves his Wildcats. Want to see your pup on KSR? Send a picture of him or her wearing UK gear to [email protected]
Watch the “Survivor” Premiere at KSRBar
Are you a “Survivor” fan? Come to KSBar and Grille tonight for the premiere of the new “Winners at War” season, which features past winners, including Kentucky’s own Nick Wilson. “Kentucky Nick” will join our own Nick Roush and Drew Franklin at the bar tonight and is bringing some of his friends from the CBS reality TV world with him. The fun starts at 8 p.m. ET, but get there early to secure your seat.
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) February 11, 2020