NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings suggested Friday that his team's leading scorer, John Jenkins, may face the ultimate test in Saturday's game against Kentucky.
"(DeAndre) Liggins may be the best defender in this league," Stallings said of UK's perimeter stopper.
When asked what made Liggins an effective defender, Stallings noted physical and mental attributes. "He's tough," the Vandy coach said. "He's long. He's physical."
Stallings also spoke of an intangible gift Liggins possesses.
"He's got a sense for what good defenders do," he said of Liggins. "The really good defenders naturally gravitate to the right positions, kind of like really good scorers. Really good scorers sort of navigate themselves to where they're supposed to be, and that's what really good defenders do. And he just naturally ends up in the position where he's supposed to be in."
On Thursday, UK Coach John Calipari again noted how he wanted the Cats to get Liggins more shots as a reward for playing good defense. It's an idea that met with Liggins' approval.
"I think the same way," he said. "If I play good defense, I'd like to touch the ball sometimes."
But, Liggins also said, he's not overly anxious to shoot. "It doesn't matter to me if I get the ball or not. My role is to help us win. If it's scoring, that's what I'll try to do."
That anything-to-win mentality led Liggins to contemplate how the court in Memorial Gym sits about three feet higher than the first row of sideline seats.
"It'll be a scary thing if someone fell off," he said, before adding, "If I've got to do that to win a game, I'll do that."
When Liggins scores 10 or more points, Kentucky has an 8-0 record this season. In his career, that record is 12-1 with the lone loss coming against Miami (Fla.) on Dec. 6 of his freshman season.
Calipari cited Liggins' scoring 10 or more points as one possible reason for UK's 8-0 record in such games.
"We're better when he's in double figures," the UK coach said, "because it gives us some balance."
Jenkins continues to play despite spraining his right (shooting) shoulder in practice last week.
"I don't feel it too much," he said. "I'm definitely feeling it now. But in a game, my adrenaline gets pumping so much, I don't have time to think about it."
Jenkins receives heat treatment before every practice and game. He ices the shoulder after each practice and game.
The injury has not adversely affected the SEC leader in three-pointers (3.0 per game) and scoring (19.2 ppg). In the two games since spraining the shoulder, he's made 11 of 23 shots (three of 10 from three-point range) and averaged 19 points.
Jenkins vs. Wall
UK's 58-56 victory here last season ended with John Wall blocking Jenkins' three-point attempt from the left corner.
When asked if he would carry that memory into Saturday's game, Jenkins looked incredulous. "It's way history," he told a reporter. "I hadn't thought of that till you just told me that."
During his news conference Thursday, Calipari asked reporters a question: What were Vanderbilt's colors?
Told that black and gold were Vandy's colors, Calipari good-naturedly predicted that the Commodores would have a "black out" or a "gold out" for the game against UK.
Every Southeastern Conference opponent seems to have a special event tied to a game against Kentucky. For instance, Florida staged an "orange out" last weekend. Earlier this season, Ole Miss had a "red out" for its game with Kentucky.
"I ought to get in the T-shirt business," Calipari quipped.
Sure enough, Vandy plans to have a "black out" for Saturday's game against UK, spokesman Andy Boggs said Friday.
Kevin Harlan and Bill Raftery will call the game for CBS.