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From the Pressbox: Notes from Tom Leach (Feb. 11)

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It's the overpowering force versus the immovable object matchup when Kentucky and Vanderbilt square off Saturday in Nashville -- not the teams necessarily, but one individual matchup. 

UK has arguably the best defender in the league in DeAndre Liggins while Vandy boasts the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer in John Jenkins.

Vandy coach Kevin Stallings said Jenkins is a crafty player.

"He's really a remarkable player," Stallings said. "He's not the fastest guy, he's not the highest jumping guy, but he knows to play. He knows how to use screens and he's got more game off the dribble than people think. He's got a great shot fake. When he lifts that thing up, you've got to respect it because he's such a great shooter. He really maximizes the skill set that he has and he has been incredibly consistent."

And the Commodores have the most famous "Festus" since Marshall Dillon's deputy on "Gunsmoke" in big man Festus Ezeli, one of the conference's most improved players.

"We saw him playing AAU basketball the summer prior to when he enrolled here," Stallings said. "There were other schools very interested in him, high-level schools, Florida, Connecticut, Boston College. He essentially came on the condition that we redshirt him, so he could learn how to be on a team. His progress has been incredible.

"(He was) very raw (when he arrived) but the work ethic you have to have to succeed at this level was completely new to him. He had trouble getting through an individual workout when he got here but he's turned into one of our best workers. He's extremely coachable and he gives you his best effort every day, and as a coach, that's all you can ask."

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Brandon Knight could set a school record against Vandy. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., product has nine games in which he has scored at least 20 points, tying the school record for a freshman, shared by Patrick Patterson and Rex Chapman until now.
Terrence Jones has seven, so he could break it, too. Both Knight and Jones are on pace to eclipse the freshman scoring record set last season by John Wall.

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The stats on the last 10 or 12 games is no longer part of the team information sheets that members of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee examine as they compare one squad against another. But CBS Sports and bracket analyst Jerry Palm said it's clearly still a factor, mainly in terms of seeding rather than getting invited into the field.

"If you look at last year's bracket and see teams like Marquette and Notre Dame as 6 seeds, there's no way they should (have been) that high unless you considered how they finished the season," Palm said. "They should have been barely in the tournament. Obviously, some committee members are still considering that kind of thing, because it's a subjective process."

Palm said Kentucky has a good chance to improve its stock this month because it plays several games against "tournament quality" teams (like Vandy on Saturday), given the strength of the SEC East this winter.

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Happy birthday to UK center Josh Harrelson. He turns 22 Saturday.

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