The hopes for the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team to defend their national championship took a hit Friday night when the team lost in their first game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Wildcats lost 64 -48 to the Vanderbilt Commodores and go into Selection Sunday with a 21-11 record.
Freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein led the Wildcats with seven points and nine rebounds.
The Wildcats were the SEC Tournament’s No. 2 seed. The Commodores were the tournament’s No. 10 seed.
Before the game, NCAA Tournament predictors had the Wildcats in the field of 68—but just barely—after the team defeated the then-No. 11-ranked Florida Gators last week.
With Friday night’s loss to the 16-16 Commodores, it’s unclear whether the Wildcats will be invited to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
It’s been a rough season for UK, which last year finished 38-2. This season was made tougher last month when star center Nerlens Noel suffered a career-ending knee injury.