NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Vanderbilt men’s basketball team begins its second go-round against Southeastern Conference competition at 6 p.m. Tuesday when No. 12 Kentucky comes to town.
After the first 10 games of the conference slate, Vandy (9-14, 1-9 SEC) now faces the next eight opponents for the second time in 2020. The Commodores will be looking for better results than the first time through the slate.
The first opportunity to start a revenge tour of sorts begins this week.
“We worry more about our adjustments more than (the opponent),” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “We feel like if we move and screen and have good spacing, we’re going to be able to get the looks that we want. It’s about stepping in with confidence and knocking them down.
“I just hope we come out with a lot of energy (Tuesday). There should be a lot of energy in this building and we’re excited for it.”
After beating LSU 99-90 last week inside Memorial Gymnasium, the Dores fell short at Mississippi State on Saturday. A 39.6 percent shooting clip from the field and 25 percent from long range contributed to an 80-70 loss.
Junior guard Saben Lee had another 20-point effort, but fellow junior Maxwell Evans was held to seven points after scoring a career-high 31 against LSU. The lack of consistency hindered Vandy on the road.
“I don’t think there was a letdown from (the LSU) game or any hangover from that,” Stackhouse said. “It was just a lack of attention to detail that hampered us a bit in that second half. If we can come out of the halftime with a little more focus and attention to what we need to do, I think that will be good for us (Tuesday) night.
“We have to figure out how to start the second half. I think the third quarter of the game, even though we’re in halves, has been kind of the issue for us. I don’t think it’s a matter of us coming out (of the locker room) early or coming out later, but it’s just focus.”
Kentucky comes to Nashville winners of 6 of 7, including a 71-61 triumph Jan. 29 over Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. The Commodores led that affair for much of the night until the Wildcats (18-5, 8-2 SEC) took the lead back with 8:33 to play in regulation and never looked back.
Guard Immanuel Quickley and forward Nick Richards are averaging just less than 15 points per game for the Wildcats. Kentucky as a team ranks third nationally in free throws made, sixth in free-throw shooting (78.7 percent) and 14th by holding opponents to a 28.8 shooting mark from 3-point mark.
“A lot of things down the stretch didn’t go our way, whether it be the lobs they were throwing or the momentum changing,” Vanderbilt freshman point guard Scotty Pippen Jr. said about the first matchup with the Wildcats. “It was one of our first times being in an environment in a close game like that. Being home – that will help.
“I just feel like we have to out-tough them, be more physical. We got to make sure we get all the hustle plays and all the 50-50 balls need to be ours.”
Vanderbilt will honor its 1964-65 basketball team at halftime Tuesday.
The ’64-65 Commodores went 24-4 and 15-1 in the Southeastern Conference en route to an SEC championship. Coached by Roy Skinner, Vandy beat DePaul in the NCAA Tournament before losing 87-85 to Michigan in Lexington, Kentucky.
Clyde Lee (22.5 points, 15 rebounds per game), John Ed Miller and Snake Grace were named All-SEC that season.
• Lee (1,132) needs four points Tuesday to pass Luke Kornet for 40th (1,135) on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Mario Moore is 39th (1,137), Babe Taylor is 38th (1,114) and Brett Burrow (1,149) is 37th.
• Vanderbilt is 95-238 against ranked opponents and 65-78 in those games at home.
• The Commodores trail the series with Kentucky 145-47 and 48-23 at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats have won seven straight against the Dores.
• Vanderbilt nows ranks 43rd nationally with 527 free throw attempts (527), 69th with 362 free throws made and 79th with 8.3 made 3s per game.
• Lee is among the top 100 players nationally in assists per game, free throw attempts, free throws made and total assists.