Positions battles for UK vs. Vanderbilt

Freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) and sophomore guard Tyler Ulis (3) laugh after a timeout during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 78-53. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Anthony Crawford

The return of senior Alex Poythress gave the Cats new life coming off a loss at Texas A&M. With the forward back, the team handled the Alabama Crimson Tide easily. UK will have to go through the Vanderbilt Commodores, a team that has yet to live up to preseason expectation put on it.

The Commodores need a win to help their NCAA chances and have the hostile environment of Memorial Gym to help them get the upset over the Cats.

Tyler Ulis vs. Wade Baldwin IV

Sophomore Tyler Ulis’ player of the year campaign is starting to gain some steam. He had his sixth double-double of the season against Alabama with 19 points and ten assists. That games also marked the sixth straight game he has had at least eight assists.

The Commodore offense is powered by sophomore Wade Baldwin IV. The point guard leads the team in points 14.4 per game and assists with 4.9 per game. The key for the Cats to get stops will be containing Baldwin.

Isaiah Briscoe vs. Matthew Fisher-Davis

These two player come into the matchup as polar opposites. Freshman Isaiah Briscoe has struggled shooting from the floor all season for UK, especially from three-point range.

Sophomore Matthew Fisher-Davis makes his biggest contribution to the team from shooting. The guard leads the SEC in three-point percentage, shooting 46.6 percent from deep.  

Jamal Murray vs. Jeff Roberson

Both of these players are coming off impressive performances and should enter this matchup with a full head of steam. Freshman Jamal Murray scored 23 points on his birthday against Alabama. Murray just keeps getting better offensively, especially now as he is incorporating more drives to the basket.

In Vanderbilt’s last game against Florida, sophomore Jeff Roberson was able to contribute his fifth career double-double with 18 points and ten rebounds. Roberson crashing the glass along with two seven-footers in the paint make the Commodores a very tough team when it comes to rebounding.

Marcus Lee vs. Luke Kornet

This matchup contains two of the top shot-blockers in the SEC. Junior Luke Kornet gives Vanderbilt the advantage in protecting the paint as he ranks first in the conference with 2.9 blocks per game. Junior Marcus Lee comes in at eighth with 1.7 per game.

Another thing to watch out for in this matchup is Poythress coming off the bench. In his first game back Poythress provided a great scoring punch in the paint with 14 points, so look for him to start gaining more minutes.

Isaac Humphries vs. Damian Jones

Damian Jones will be coming into the game against UK riding a hot streak as he put up a career-high 27 points in the Commodores last game against Florida. Even more impressively, the junior center was able to do so while only missing one shot, going 12-for-13 from the floor. He will be a tough to handle in the post.

He is the exact type of player that freshman Isaac Humphries is built to match up against. UK’s seven-footer will have the physical matchup he’s been wanting with Jones, so that might motivate him to have better efforts on the boards as he was only able to come away with four rebounds against Alabama Tuesday.