All year the SEC has been about who you can’t lose to instead of who you can beat. Last night, Wildcat fans understood that better than ever.
Riding high following their season-ending victory against Florida, Big Blue Nation took over Nashville expecting to see a deep run in the SEC tournament. That presence was felt inside Bridgestone Arena, where the atmosphere seemed more like a UK home game despite the fact Vanderbilt actually is the hometown team. Unfortunately, UK continued the roller coaster ride their season has become since Nerlens Noel’s injury, losing their 4th straight game away from home and falling to the Commodores 64-48
Vanderbilt, which twice lost to UK after coming back from double digit deficits to, continued its torrid shooting from behind the 3-point line in the SEC tournament. After hitting 12 3s in their opening round win over Arkansas Thursday, they hit 5 more in the 1st half against UK en route to a 37-25 halftime lead. UK showed signs of life in the second half, but could never get the deficit to single digits or keep Vanderbilt from hitting momentum killing shots. UK was led by Archie Goodwin with 12 points, and Kyle Wiltjer added 10. Ryan Harrow played perhaps his worst game as a Wildcat, going 2-15 from the field and finishing with 4 points, 1 assist, and 4 turnovers. Vanderbilt, who improved to 16-16 on the year, finished the game 8-17 from behind the arc and had four players in double figures led by Dai-Jon Parker with 12. They advance to play Ole Miss, who defeated Missouri 64-62, in the semifinals today.
The Wildcats are now in the unenviable position of awaiting their future while the television pundits provide updates on their guesses every half hour. Most seem to think that UK’s lack of success away from home in the wake of Noel’s injury will burst their bubble. We’ll have to wait until Sunday night to find out.
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