A peek at our potential tonight.
— Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball (@VandyMBB) January 6, 2021
The second-year coach had to give Disu a ride to the facility and joked that maybe Disu should miss the bus every game.
A sophomore forward, Disu had 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Wildcats in what was one of Vandy’s better games of the season despite a 77-74 end result. Davion Mintz hit a triple for Kentucky with 47 seconds to go which proved to be the game-winner.
“I thought our guys fought and competed. The things that we worked on this week, they really brought it to the game,” Stackhouse said. “I thought the ball was really popping in the first half, got some really good looks and really good opportunities.
“In the second half it was sticking just a little bit, but I still thought we were moving it side to side and creating some good opportunities. Just at the end they made one more shot than we did. No problem with the fight tonight. Just got to get a little bit smarter in certain situations and I think we will.”
The Commodores (4-4, 0-2 SEC) not only got 18 and 10 from Disu, but 18 from Scotty Pippen and 18 from Jordan Wright. Pippen dished out eight assists and collected eight rebounds while Wright had eight boards as well.
Freshman Myles Stute added 16 in a game where Vandy led by as many as nine in the first half.
Kentucky (3-6, 2-0 SEC) never got up more than six and by only as much as four during the final 20 minutes. But the Wildcats also never trailed after taking a 58-57 lead with 8:14 to go.
The Commodores did have a shot at sending the game to overtime, but Maxwell Evans’ 3 at the buzzer bounced around the rim and off.
“I feel like today we showed some fight which we lacked in our previous games that we lost by 20 or more,” Pippen said. “Tonight we came out and fought so I can’t really complain on my team about that. Just a couple of execution things I feel like we need to work on, but as far as playing harder and rebounding, I feel like we did all we needed to do to win the game.”
Pippen scored 10 of his 18 in the first half en route to a near triple-double. As the sophomore guard has emerged into the unquestionable leader of the Commodores in 2020-21, some of his teammates began to chip in Tuesday in a hopeful sign of things to come the rest of the season.
Stute had 11 in the first half and sunk three triples. Wright came off the bench to score half of his point total during the opening frame and Vanderbilt had eight more rebounds than the Wildcats.
In the second half, Kentucky got to the free throw line 19 times and made 16 freebies. Olivier Sarr, who eventually fouled out, had as many made free throws by himself (14) as the Commodores attempted as a team.
But Vandy kept charging and its scorers kept scoring, that is until right up until the final horn.
“Having games with four guys in double figures or just being threats on the court – it’s not even really about scoring,” Pippen said. “Having guys that are able to attack and get other teammates open, having guys that can set picks and get their teammates open, it always helps to have guys scoring the ball and contributing to scoring the ball.”
Vanderbilt will now look to avoid an 0-3 start in league play when it faces Mississippi State (6-4, 1-1 SEC) at noon Saturday back in Memorial Gymnasium. If the Dores play like they played Tuesday they’ll have a good chance at finding the win column.
They can’t certainly allow a close loss on the road turn into a defeat at home.
“We’re getting there, man. We’re building,” Stackhouse said. “We’ll look at this as a positive, take the positives away from it and try to get better from some of the mistakes that we made.”
• Disu, Pippen, Evans, Stute and D.J. Harvey started Tuesday’s game for the Commodores. That’s the sixth different starting lineup of the season for Vanderbilt.
• Vanderbilt has now made at least four 3s in 23 consecutive games.
• The Commodores are now 47-147 against Kentucky and 14-84 in Lexington. Vandy has lost nine in a row in the series and last beat the Wildcats on Feb. 27, 2016.
• Vanderbilt has now lost 12 in a row at Rupp Arena since a 72-67 victory Jan. 20, 2007.
• Vandy is 0-2 in SEC play for the third season in a row.
• Vandy has now led at halftime in five straight games at Kentucky and is 0-5 in those contests.
• Pippen nearly became the first Commodore to record a triple-double since Luke Kornet (11 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks) against Auburn on Jan. 12, 2016.
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.