NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a game Vanderbilt never led, Kentucky held off attack after attack for a 82-78 win inside Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Dylan Disu had the best game of his young career with 29 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals, but Kentucky was able to keep Scotty Pippen relatively in check – the sophomore had 21 points thanks to 10 made free throws.
Vandy had tied the game at 46 in the second half and had multiple chances to edge in front.
Trailing by seven with 4 1/2 minutes to go, a Pippen 3 got Vandy within 64-60. And at 74-68, Disu scored five straight getting the Dores down 74-73.
Jordan Wright had a chance to give Vandy the lead with 32 seconds to go, but his two free throws fell off no good. The Wildcats sank their free throws from there en route to their 10th victory in a row over their SEC rival.
Vanderbilt (6-11, 2-9 SEC) returns to action at noon Saturday to face first-place Alabama (17-5, 12-1 SEC) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Vanderbilt missed its first four shots and turned the ball over four times. Kentucky took advantage to the tune of a 10-0 lead in less than four minutes.
After 8 1/2 minutes Vanderbilt had missed seven of its first 10 shots and had turned the ball over eight times. Kentucky led 23-8 at that point thanks to seven assists on eight made shots.
Vandy’s cold shooting continued deep into the first half and with seven minutes to go the Dores trailed 25-10 due, in part, to a 4 of 20 – and 1-for-11 from 3 – clip from the field.
Vanderbilt rallied back and got within eight on a pair of DJ Harvey free throws with 68 seconds left in the half. Kentucky, however, ended the half on a 7-2 run to go up 42-30 at the break.
Disu had 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half alone while Pippen was held scoreless. Vandy only made two of its 13 triples in the first half.
Vanderbilt came out energized and animated in the second half and went on a 13-2 run to start things highlighted by a monstrous Clevon Brown dunk and a Harvey 3 cutting the score to 44-43.
One Disu free throw knotted the score at 46-all after a Kentucky technical foul later in the half – but the Commodores just couldn’t find their first lead. Jacob Toppin’s three-point play put the Wildcats ahead 56-51 with 10 minutes left.
Toppin’s bucket at the 7:23 mark pushed the Kentucky lead back out to 62-53. Vandy scored four straight from there and made it 62-57 thanks to a Wright layup.
That set up the final – and thrilling – five minutes of the contest.
Davion Mintz led five Kentucky players in double figures with 18 points. The Wildcats made 24 of 25 free throws.
• Pippen, Disu, Maxwell Evans, Wright and Brown started Wednesday’s game for Vanderbilt.
• Pippen is the only Commodore to have started all 17 games for Vandy this season and has started 31 straight games for Vanderbilt.
• The double-double for Disu was the fifth of the season and 10th of his career.
• Vanderbilt has now made at least four 3s in 32 consecutive games.