Kentucky leads after defensive first half

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Neither team found much of an offensive flow in the first half Saturday.

Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins maneuvered his way inside to 10 points, but also turned it over four times.

Vanderbilt shot it poorly (29 percent from the field) and also took some questionable shots.

In the end, it was a pretty even scrap, with the No. 2-ranked Wildcats going into halftime with a 27-25 lead at Memorial Gym.

Vanderbilt is one of the few teams in the SEC that can match Kentucky’s height and length, but the Commodores had trouble finishing around the basket.

The other thing Vanderbilt has to do is get senior point guard Jermaine Beal untracked. He was just 1-of-5 in the first half for two points. He didn’t score at all in the first half two nights ago at Ole Miss. He’s been playing with a jammed right hand, and you have to wonder how much it’s bothering him.

What kept the Commodores close was rebounding. They outrebounded the Wildcats 22-16 in the first half.

If Vanderbilt shoots it better in the second half, you have to like the Commodores’ chances. They were just 1-of-10 from 3-point range. But, then, Kentucky was just a tad better at 2-of-10.

Here’s the other thing: Vanderbilt wasn’t overly aggressive taking the ball to the basket and only attempted eight free throws. The Commodores are averaging 31.4 free-throw attempts in SEC games this season.

These two teams combined for 70 free-throw attempts when they met earlier this season in Lexington.