Friday, February 19, 2010
With Vanderbilt’s impressive 82-78 road win over Ole Miss on Thursday night, the stage is set for a first-place showdown in the SEC between No. 17 Vanderbilt (20-5, 9-2 SEC) and No. 2 Kentucky (25-1, 10-1) inside Memorial Gym on Saturday.
How big is the game? Vanderbilt fans haven’t witnessed this kind of regular season success in 17 years when the 1992-93 team captured the SEC East title. That squad finished the SEC campaign 14-2 that year.
Dick Vitale will be in the house along with the rest of the ESPN crew to see if the Commodores can throw a wrench into the Wildcats’ plan to runaway with the conference crown.
With the Rebels out of the way, let the Kentucky talk begin.
“I’m just excited that our program has a chance to play in that game,” head coach Kevin Stallings said. “I’m excited that we're playing for first place and we’re playing the No. 2 team in the country. They’re arguably the most talented team in the country. They’re outstanding.
“It will take one of our great performances to win that game. We’ve done it before and I’ve got a feeling our crowd will be ready. Hopefully, we’ll give them the kind of performance that they get accustomed to seeing."
Much like the NCAA Tournament format, Vanderbilt will only have one day between games to completely focus on their game plan. The Wildcats, on the other hand, haven't played since Tuesday.
“It’s a difficult (process) because literally we play in less than 48 hours," Stallings added. "We’ll have some practice time (Friday) and will probably bring them in for a shoot around on Saturday so we can just get some time to walk through some more things. We obviously won’t be able to do very much because we can’t afford to be tired.
“I’m not going to go for the excuse wagon. We just have to be able to turn around and play our game on Saturday.”
Fans are encouraged to wear gold to the game in an effort to create the best home court advantage possible. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT but you should try to arrive early as crowds and traffic are expected to be very heavy on game day.