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College Basketball: Kentucky Loses on Road vs. Vanderbilt

It’s just really disheartening. We’ve been in it at the end of every single road game we’ve played this season.

We just can’t close down the stretch.

The story of the Vanderbilt game last season was the way the Cats were able to close down the stretch, first with a Patrick Patterson corner three, then with a John Wall block of a John Jenkins three in the waning seconds.

Both of those guys could close a game. It seems like we just don’t have an enforcer like that. We don’t have a go to guy who we can reliably depend upon to put the game on ice after we get a late lead.

DeAndre Liggins showed flashes in the second half that he might be the guy to assume that mantle, but two late turnovers that led to Vanderbilt baskets quickly changed that opinion.

We didn’t play poorly on the offensive end, especially considering the intimidating road atmosphere that Memorial provides, but our defense, especially our perimeter defense left much to be desired.

The story of the day for Vanderbilt was the exceptional play of John Jenkins. After getting his stuff served last year by John Wall, Jenkins went 6-10 from the three point line en route to a career high 32 points. His 32 combined with 26 points from a couple Vandy big men whose names would make any good xenophobe shudder, proved too much for the sparse-bodied Cats.

After Darius Miller went out with a leg injury early in the second half, the Cats were down to five players and two of the them, DeAndre and Josh, were in significant foul trouble. Darius eventually came back but his play wasn’t nearly the level of intensity that it was before he sustained his injury. The Cats lack of depth reared its ugly head today and made it difficult for the weary Cats to make plays down the stretch.

As has become the theme on the road, the Cats floundered a late lead to end up losing in heart breaking fashion. After DeAndre hit a huge three with the shot clock expiring and then took a charge with four fouls, I thought that this would be the game where someone steps up and wills us to a road victory. However, his two subsequent turnovers in the waning minutes left me looking forward to the time when we’ll finally break out and secure a huge road win.

I still hold out that this team has the potential to be special. We’ve lost five road games to good teams (and Ole Miss) by a combined 12 points. This isn’t the team of 2009-2010. These are new Cats and I hold out in the belief that they can do something big in March. Hopefully, they’ll prove me right with a big coming out party at Tennessee in the last regular season game.

Until then, Go Cats


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