The 'Dores took the #2 team in the nation down to the wire, holding them to only 58 points and keeping them under 40% from the field. Perhaps most incredible was our performance on the glass, as we out-rebounded Kentucky 37-29.
With four games left in the SEC regular season, there is no time for Vandy to keep this loss in mind. Georgia comes to town on Thursday, followed by two huge road games at Arkansas and at Florida. The 'Dores then close their regular season out with South Carolina at home.
The goal now must be to secure a first round bye in the SEC Tournament. Though the two road match-ups will be challenging, I am further convinced that this team will not crumble down the stretch. Even when they are not playing well they stay right in the thick of things. They display a mental and physical toughness unlike Vanderbilt teams of the past. This team is extremely battle-tested, and I feel confident that we can go 3-1 down this final stretch.
Despite the loss to Kentucky, I believe a 3 seed in the tournament is still well within our reach. Finishing the season with a strong 12-4 record would create a nice argument, but winning a game in the SEC Tournament would be the icing on the cake that could lock us in to that tier. However, I can tell you right now this team has the tools to get all the way to the championship game. If Kentucky again waits for us there, well, I wouldn't want to play us a third time. You can bet that the 'Dores will not shoot as poorly as they did on Saturday for the rest of the season, and you can also bet that Stallings will not let this team forget that there's plenty of basketball left to play.
Vanderbilt fans should look at this loss in a positive light. It was a hard fought game against the #2 team in the country, and it was nearly played to a stalemate. This game convinced me, as if I needed convincing before, that Vanderbilt is far from soft. Considering our SOS and our performance against it, I think we are well prepared to make big runs both in the SEC Tourney, and in the NCAA Tourney.