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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt looks to challenge Kentucky in its final away game

With nothing left to lose, the Commodores face a hot, high-scoring Wildcat team on the road.
Nikita Rohila
Paul Lewis passes the ball while surrounded by Kentucky defense, as photographed on Feb. 6, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila)

After a 75-61 home loss to LSU, The Vanderbilt Commodores will travel to Lexington, KY., to take on the No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday, marking their final road game of the season. While the Commodores showed improvement in their recent win over Arkansas, this has been a rough season for the Commodores who rank 13th (3-13) in conference play. 

The opposite can be said for the No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats, who are coming off of a three-game win streak, averaging just over 106 points over their past three games. The Wildcats are looking to finish their season strong as they fight for a top seed in the SEC Tournament (March 13-17). 

The last matchup between the Commodores and Wildcats was a 32-point blowout in favor of the Wildcats. Kentucky has a young team of prolific scorers, which have helped them achieve the third-highest average points per game in the nation. The Wildcats are led by the fifth-year senior Antonio Reeves, who dropped 24 points in his last matchup against Vanderbilt. The veteran guard is an elite shooter with a quick release. He also excels at creating scoring opportunities for himself through reading the defense and driving to the rim when facing fast closeouts. If the Commodores want a chance at victory, they are going to need to lock down Reeves, who shot 66.7% (6-of-9) from the 3-point line in the last matchup. 

Although Reeves is going to be a primary threat, Kentucky has some other tricks up its sleeve. Rob Dillingham could be another problem. Dillingham had 20 points and shot a jaw-dropping 80% (4-of-5) from the 3-point line against Vanderbilt earlier this year. It is no surprise that the Wildcats, who rank third in points per game in the conference, also rank first in 3-point percentage (40.8%). 

On Wednesday, the Commodores will need to have efficient shooting. Kentucky allows an average of 79.1 points per game, the most of any SEC team. Vanderbilt will need to take advantage of that if they want to keep the game close. This game will likely be an offensive shootout given Kentucky’s fast-paced offense. The Commodores could potentially be able to keep up with Kentucky’s offense if they can get 6’8” forward Ven-Allen Lubin involved in the paint. Lubin had a stellar performance against a solid Texas A&M team earlier in the year recording 25 points to help put the Commodores ahead of the Aggies. Lubin was also a major contributor with 19 points in the victory over Arkansas last week. 

Vanderbilt could also benefit from its leading scorer, Ezra Manjon, who has dropped double-digit points in his past four games. Manjon’s erratic and fast-paced playstyle could surprise Kentucky’s vulnerable defense. Manjon’s efficiency is going to be key for the Commodores on Wednesday if they look to avoid getting swept by Kentucky.  

It is no secret that this game is more important to Kentucky than Vanderbilt, as Vanderbilt’s tournament seed will almost certainly remain the same. Unless Vanderbilt wins out and Arkansas loses out, the Commodores will take the 13th seed going into the SEC Tournament. Regardless, this game will be a good test for the Commodores to show how much fight they have left. 

Vanderbilt will enter this matchup as significant underdogs, with ESPN giving the Commodores a 2.8% chance of winning. Vanderbilt will need all hands on deck, as well as some luck, to overcome the Kentucky Wildcats on the road.

The Commodores will play the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday, March 6th at 8:00 p.m. CST., in Lexington, KY.

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About the Contributors
Tyler Chueh
Tyler Chueh, Staff Writer
Tyler Chueh (‘26) is from Cambridge, Mass., and is a student in the College of Arts and Science studying sociology and political science. In addition to writing, Tyler enjoys playing tennis, basketball and poker. As a Boston local, his favorite sports teams include the Red Sox and Celtics. He can be reached at [email protected].
Nikita Rohila
Nikita Rohila, Senior Staff Photographer
Nikita Rohila ('25) is from a small town in Arkansas and is majoring in psychology and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Social Media Director. During her free time, she enjoys roaming around the city and getting cinematic-style shots for her photography account! You can reach her at [email protected].
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2 months ago

I hope we win but I am not optimistic!