Kentucky Wildcats vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Pick 2/11/20
Kentucky Wildcats (18-5 SU, 11-12 ATS) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (9-14 SU, 11-11-1 ATS)
When: Tuesday, February 11, 7 p.m
Where: Memorial Gym, Nashville, Tenn.
Point Spread: UK -11/VANDY +11 (SportBet)
Total: O/U 144.5
Last Time Out:
Kentucky handled Tennessee 77-64; Vanderbilt lost 80-70 to Mississippi State.
Scouting the Wildcats:
After handling one half of the SEC’s Tennessee duo on Saturday, the Wildcats now head down Interstate 40 to take on the Commodores, and they’ll be hoping for a much better performance than they gave against Vanderbilt in Lexington. In that game, Kentucky sleepwalked through the first half and probably should have taken a loss, but righted itself when it got Nick Richards back on the court and was able to feed him inside.
Richards scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds against Vandy the first time, and he’d have had a lot more if he hadn’t spent most of the first half on the bench with foul trouble, as all but one of his rebounds came in the second half. Kentucky should have a significant advantage inside against Vanderbilt, and the Wildcats have to make sure to press it in this game.
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Scouting the Commodores:
Vanderbilt finally got the win that had been a long time coming, and it seems to have boosted the Commodores’ spirits a fair amount. That was pretty critical for the Commodores because they’ve been through an absolute nightmare over the past year and a half. Vandy has struggled badly with injuries and has been without Aaron Nesmith for the previous nine games. However, Saben Lee and Maxwell Evans were huge against LSU in the Commodores’ win, and Kentucky couldn’t stop Lee at all in the teams’ meeting in Lexington. If he can get some help, Vanderbilt could pull a big surprise.
Memorial Gym. If you’ve never been to Vanderbilt, you might be surprised by just how crazy the Commodores’ arena is. Vanderbilt has the only building in the country where the players’ benches are at the ends of the court, rather than on the sides. The gym is set up like a stage in an auditorium, creating the most unique atmosphere in the country no matter what the Commodores’ record is. Because it’s so different from anything that exists anywhere else in the country, it often takes visiting teams several minutes to adjust to shooting in the gym, which can give Vanderbilt a chance to build a lead and gain confidence. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s still a possibility when a team comes to Nashville.
Kentucky will Cover if:
The Wildcats can exert their will on the glass. Kentucky is not the team it was last year when nobody outrebounded everyone it faced, but it should still be able to repeat its performance from the first game against Vanderbilt when it won the battle on the boards 37-29. Kentucky has a considerable size advantage over the undersized Commodores, and the Wildcats have to keep pounding away at the glass and extending their possessions. Kentucky is one of the weakest offensive rebounding squads in the SEC, but Vanderbilt is even worse at the art, so there’s plenty of opportunities here for Kentucky.
Vanderbilt will Cover if:
The Commodores can step up their shooting from the first meeting. Vanderbilt really could have won the game if it had managed to shoot better than 39 percent from the floor in Lexington. This time, Vanderbilt will have the shooting edge that comes with playing in its unique gym, and there’s reason to believe that the Commodores can increase their shooting percentage a little bit and put some pressure on the Wildcats. If Vandy can take some smart shots, this game is there to take.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
This spread might look right with Vanderbilt’s record, but the Commodores have actually been playing a lot better than their record indicates as of late. In their past four games against Kentucky, Florida, LSU, and Mississippi State, every game was decided by 10 points or less, including a pair of road games in Lexington and Starkville. Vanderbilt has also gone to Auburn and played the Tigers tough, losing by just four points.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has had a world of trouble putting teams away. The Wildcats haven’t had any issues with getting wins, but they’ve had to work for it every time. Since the calendar turned to 2020, Kentucky has all of two wins out of 11 games where they’ve won by more than 10 points: Missouri by 12 and Tennessee by 13. Every other game has been a fight to the finish, and there’s little reason to think that an improving Vanderbilt can’t stay in the game long enough to make the Cats work at Memorial Gym.
I expect Kentucky to grab a win here, but I think it’s going to be another six to a nine-point victory. Eleven is just too many points, so I will grab Vanderbilt.
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