Instant analysis from No. 18 Kentucky’s 56-47 win over Vanderbilt:
How the game was won
Kentucky freshmen Ashton Hagans (15), Keldon Johnson (15) and Immanuel Quickley (12) combined for 42 of UK’s 57 points and the Wildcats overcame another slow start to grind out a victory over struggling Vanderbilt (9-6, 0-3 SEC).
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1. Keldon Johnson. After a bit of a slog against Texas A&M, the UK freshman swingman was an efficient 6-of-8 shooting vs. Vandy.
2. Immanuel Quickley. Kentucky made only four of 17 treys but Quickley stuck three of them (3-of-7).
3. Ashton Hagans. The UK freshman point guard was a little loose with the ball (five turnovers), but otherwise turned in another dynamic game, including three more steals.
“The Cat Burglar” now has a combined 22 thefts in the past five games.
4. Kentucky three-point defense. After allowing Vandy to hit four of five three-pointers to open the game, the Cats limited the Commodores to 3-of-20 shooting from trey thereafter.
What to worry about
1. Another slow UK break from the gate. After falling behind Texas A&M 10-0 Tuesday night, Kentucky got itself into a 13-4 deficit to start Saturday’s game.
2. Struggling against so-so competition. Kentucky still has to play well-regarded SEC foes Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and Tennessee twice each. So the fact the Cats had trouble pulling away from mediocre Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena this week is concerning.
3. Three-point shooting. All Cats not named Immanuel Quickley combined to hit exactly one trey in in nine attempts.
146. Kentucky is now 146-47 all-time vs. Vanderbilt. Of all SEC teams, UK has only beaten one other more often than Vandy. The Wildcats are 154-71 all-time vs. Tennessee.
▪ UK student Taylor Comstock flat rocked the national anthem. One of the more uplifting renditions one will ever hear.
▪ It was an energetic crowd of 22,504 in Rupp Arena. There’s something electric about Saturday night college hoops.
▪ The lower arena seats in Rupp were provided hardhats as part of a promotion to attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for most people wearing a hardhat in one place.
Rupp Arena’s upper-level patrons were not provided with the freebies, which created a Twitter controversy over Rupp’s “working class” getting stiffed on a hardhat promotion.
No. 18 Kentucky (12-3, 2-1 SEC) will travel to Georgia to face the Bulldogs (9-6, 1-2 SEC) at 7 p.m. (EST) at the Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., in a game that will be telecast by ESPN.
The Bulldogs lost 93-78 at No. 11 Auburn on Saturday.
UK leads the all-time series with Georgia 126-26.
Know your foe
1. Tom Crean, the former Marquette and Indiana head man, is in his first season as Georgia head coach. Crean has given Kentucky fits in his coaching career. He has a 4-4 overall record vs. UK but is 3-1 against the Wildcats in NCAA Tournament games.
Crean bested UK in the 2003 round of eight and the 2008 round of 64 while at Marquette and in the 2016 round of 32 while at Indiana. Kentucky’s 2012 NCAA championship team beat Crean and Indiana in the round of 16.
2. So far this season, Georgia has had ample success in Athens and not so much anywhere else. The Bulldogs are 7-1 on their home court with the sole loss by two points, 76-74, to Arizona State on Dec. 15. After falling Saturday at Auburn, the Dawgs are 2-5 in games played outside Athens.
3. Kentucky has beaten Georgia 11 games in a row. The last Bulldogs victory over the Wildcats was a 72-62 win in Athens on March 7, 2013.