Sophomore A.J. Stewart scored a career-high 11 points at Vanderbilt on Tuesday. He made a three-point shot for the second straight game.
But in a case of wrong contribution at the wrong time, Stewart's points came in a 77-64 Kentucky loss.
"That was definitely helpful because we were having a hard time getting some points from anywhere," UK Coach Billy Gillispie said of Stewart's scoring. "But I really don't need a 6-9 two-guard. I need a 6-9 bruiser that's going to get about seven or eight defensive rebounds."
At 6-foot-7, Stewart is an undersize post man. He's a square peg UK forces into a round hole out of necessity after Matt Pilgrim lost an appeal to waive the requirement of transfers to sit out a season.
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Even without the 6-8 Pilgrim, Kentucky has such a bruiser in Patrick Patterson. But Patterson sat out the game at Vandy while recovering from a sprained right ankle.
Perhaps believing an acknowledgement of missing Patterson would sound like an excuse for losing, Gillispie was loath to talk about how the big man's absence affected the game.
"I'm proud of the guys who played," he said. "... I'm always proud of them, but to different degrees."
When it came to rebounding and inside muscle, UK's lack of a bruiser showed. Led by A.J. Ogilvy, who missed the game in Lexington, and freshman Jeffery Taylor, Vandy won the rebounding battle 37-26. The Commodores enjoyed an 18-8 advantage in second-chance points.
"It was the entire game," Gillispie said of the rebounding difference. "Or the biggest part."
Noting UK's 15 defensive rebounds, Gillispie said, "That's a real good game for a real good player."
In other words, a team should get more defensive rebounds.
"That's not going to get it," Gillispie said. "(UK was) dominated."
Josh Harrellson, who started in Patterson's place, played only seven minutes. "He didn't play hard enough," Gillispie said.
In explaining his two rebounds, Perry Stevenson sounded like the bruise-ee rather than the bruiser.
"Their big guys, they're hard to get around," he said. "You can try, but that's all you can do."
Stevenson spoke directly to the impact Patterson's absence created. "(Patterson) probably could have grabbed most of the rebounds," Stevenson said. "That's a huge void to fill."
Gillispie gave no hint as to when Patterson will return, but many observers see him coming back against Tennessee on Saturday.
So while the UK coach applauded Stewart's offensive output, he lamented other facets of the game that were missing.
"He has the ability to help us some," Gillispie said of Stewart. "But look at defensive rebounds, where we needed him most. He gave us a few minutes of good post defense, but (the one defensive rebound and three total) were not nearly good enough.
"You have to figure out what your team needs most at your position. And you try to provide that."
40 free throws
Gillispie offered no complaint about Vandy shooting 40 free throws, which marked the most against UK since Florida shot 40 on Jan. 19, 2008.
Vandy hadn't shot that many free throws in a game since taking 40 against Boston College on Dec. 30, 2000.
"They deserved them," the UK coach said. "They were very aggressive. They went to the basket hard. They cut hard."
Vandy's 32 made free throws marked the first time the Commodores hit 30 since a game against Iona in Memorial Gym on Dec. 31, 2007.
Show your kryptonite
Vandy continued to be the kryptonite in Jodie Meeks' super season.
Meeks, who entered the game as the nation's third-most prolific scorer (25.8 ppg), made six of 21 shots (four of 11 from three-point range).
In two games against Vandy this season, he made 11 of 37 shots (seven of 20 from beyond the arc). He averaged 23.5 points, but also averaged 18.5 shots.
When asked how Vandy did it, Coach Kevin Stallings said, "What you have to do: keep pressuring him and keep working him."
The Commodores emphasized containing Meeks on the fast break.
"We did not want them to pitch it to him in transition," Stallings said. "You can't get him stopped there. We really, really did not want that to happen."
Stallings credited Taylor, who, at 6-foot-7, has a 3-inch height advantage on Meeks.
"For a freshman, he did a terrific job," the Vandy coach said. "Athletically, he's the closest guy we have to compare to Jodie. Jeffery really locked in and played well."