Thu Mar 14 09:53pm EDT
Kentucky will face Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals in what will likely be (if you're like me and believe UK isn't guaranteed an at-large berth without a win in the tourney) a potential bracket-busting game.
It will be the third time the Cats have faced Vanderbilt. They won both -- by two on the road with Nerlens Noel available and by four at home without him -- and will be looking to do the same Friday.
So let's look at how the six players who logged more than 20 minutes combined in the two games played:
Willie Cauley-Stein: 27 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks in 62 minutes.
Alex Poythress: 14 points, 10 rebounds in 50 minutes.
Archie Goodwin: 28 points on 12-of-28 shooting, six assists, seven turnovers in 70 minutes.
Ryan Harrow: 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting, eight assists, two turnovers in 68 minutes.
Julius Mays: 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, six assists, two turnovers in 64 minutes.
Kyle Wiltjer: 9 points on 3-of-10 shooting, four rebounds in 34 minutes.
One of the keys will be defending the three. Vanderbilt takes a high proportion of their shots from outside (43.6 percent, the ninth-highest rate in the country) and are pretty accurate (making 35.1 percent, ranking 109th nationally). They can get hot, though, as they did against Arkansas.
In two regular-season games, Vanderbilt made 18 of 52 (34.6 percent). If UK can keep them around or below their season average, the chances of advancing will be much greater.
It's the second time in two years the Wildcats and Commodores meet for the third time in a season in the conference tournament. UK lost in the finals last season after winning both regular-season meetings.