Kentucky will be playing their third game in five days when they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores tonight at Memorial Coliseum. With a full roster back in the fold, Kyra Elzy and the Wildcats have been able to withstand this stretch of games with possibly their best basketball of the season. With Tuesday night’s victory over Mississippi State, Kentucky tallied back-to-back victories for the first time since December. The Wildcats will look to continue their win streak this evening.
In their first meeting, Kentucky and Vanderbilt played a fairly evenly matched game. The Commodores maintained a lead throughout the night, but the Wildcats kept the game within single digits nearly the whole way. Kentucky even got within two points late in the fourth quarter to make the score 57-55. Vanderbilt would end the game on a 8-2 run to seal a 65-57 win over Kentucky. It is worth noting that Kyra Elzy only had six players available for this game.
Brinae Alexander put on a clinic from three-point land for the Commodores in matchup number one. She was responsible for six of Vanderbilt’s seven three pointers, shooting 6-11 on her three-point attempts. Unfortunately for Kentucky, they have struggled to stop the opponent’s best players. That was evident in game one and will have to be improved on if the Wildcats want to win game two in Lexington.
The key to Kentucky’s recent success has been their press. Kyra Elzy discussed this on her call-in show on Wednesday night. Causing turnovers has helped the Wildcats’ offensive inefficiencies by allowing them to get out in transition more. The use of the press was a big part of getting back in the Alabama game after getting down 11-2 early and an even bigger part of their 15-point comeback victory against Mississippi State on Tuesday. In the half court, Kentucky has had a tendency to get stagnant. The emphasis on defensive intensity will be a big part of tonight’s game plan and will provide great opportunities on both ends of the court.
Vanderbilt is a very beatable opponent. The Wildcats will need someone outside of Rhyne Howard to step up. Over the past two games, that player has been Dre’Una Edwards. Coach Elzy has made the decision to bring Edwards off the bench and it has paid off in a big way as the Wildcats’ second leading scorer has thrived in her new role of bringing energy off the bench. Given the trajectory of both teams, it is reasonable to get excited about the opportunity of getting back over .500 tonight.