Feb 25, 2017; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Malik Monk (5) celebrates with teammates forward Wenyen Gabriel (32) and forward Edrice Bam Adebayo (3) during the game against the Florida Gators in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Florida 76-66. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Hoops Preview: #9 Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

Kentucky is closing in on its SEC-record 48th regular season title and Vanderbilt is standing in its way. The Wildcats have been one of the best teams in the country from start to finish while the Commodores are starting to come together.

Finishing strong

After suffering an embarrassing 22-points loss against Florida, the Wildcats have won their last six games (including the Florida rematch). Kentucky’s defense has been solid during this winning streak, allowing opponents to score 67.7 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting.

Edrice Adebayo has been a major catalyst for the team’s strong push to the finish line, averaging 13.7 points and 11 rebounds during Kentucky’s winning streak.

Vanderbilt won’t go away quietly

The Commodores may only be 16-13 so far under first-year head coach Bryce Drew, but don’t be fooled by the team’s overall record. Vanderbilt has won its last four games and has a number of impressive wins against quality teams such as Florida, Iowa State, Arkansas and South Carolina. Defeating Kentucky will be a tall task, but Vanderbilt is certainly capable of such an upset.


Examining the team’s statistics

Kentucky is by far the SEC’s best offensive squad, leading the league in points per game (87.8), field-goal percentage (48.1) and assists per game (16.3). Kenpom has them as the 10th most efficient offense in the nation, which is the best among SEC teams.

Defensively, the Wildcats are very solid. They’re allowing 72.6 points per game. That might seem like a lot. However, it’s important to note that they’re one of the fastest teams in the country as they’re 13th in tempo according to Kenpom, thus leading to more points being scored. They are 11th in the country in defensive efficiency. They are also one of the best teams at defending the three, allowing opponents to shoot 30.9 percent from downtown which is 17th in the country.

The Commodores are above-average offensively. They’re averaging 71.8 points per game which is 12th out of 14 SEC teams. Kenpom has them as the 43rd most efficient team on offense. In addition, they’re shooting 43.6% from the field and are averaging 13.5 assists per game. Defensively, the Commodores are allowing 68.8 points per game and are 67th in defensive efficiency. The unit has stepped up during Vanderbilt’s four-game winning streak, allowing 58.3 points per game on 35.5 percent shooting.

Game time

The game will begin tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

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