Hot-Shooting Kentucky Sinks Vanderbilt

by Chad Bishop


NASHVILLE, Tenn. Kentucky could not miss Tuesday. Vanderbilt could not keep up.

Five Wildcats scored in double figures, and Kentucky shot 68.4 percent in the second half en route to a 69-53 victory at Memorial Gymnasium. The visitors turned a two-point contest late in the first half to a relatively easy victory the rest of the way.

“Their guys made shots from all over the floor. We weren’t able to contain them at all. I think we were our own undoing—we came out and everybody tried to do it on their own,” Vandy head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “It’s probably the most disappointed as I’ve been in a postgame with this group. I thought we had selfish play to begin the game, and it bled over to our defense. Everybody was trying to do it on their own. We just weren’t ourselves.”

Vandy made just 32.7 percent of its shots, got out-rebounded by 13 and allowed 17 Kentucky assists. Those numbers were a major part of the Wildcats’ 14th consecutive victory over the Commodores.

Freshman Malik Dia led Vanderbilt with 14 points, while Tyrin Lawrence added 12. Vandy scored just two points the final 4:33 and went without a made field goal for the entirety of that stretch.

The Commodores (10-10, 3-4 SEC) travel to Texas this weekend to face Texas A&M (13-6, 5-1 SEC) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board. We’ll get back to work and focus on this weekend,” Stackhouse said.

A competitive, back-and-forth first eight minutes turned stagnant for both teams as defensive play controlled the flow for a spell. The Commodores went nearly four minutes without scoring, yet tied the game at 17 on an Ezra Manjon layup at the 7:43 mark.

Kentucky finally found a little separation with 5:24 left in the period when CJ Fredrick buried a pull-up 3 from the right wing and put the visitors ahead 27-22.

Antonio Reeves’ jumper from the left elbow made it a 34-27 game as the clock ticked under one minute remaining. Then, out of a timeout, Jacob Toppin finished an easy layup just before the halftime buzzer to give the Wildcats a 36-27 lead at the break.

That finished a 7-0 run for Kentucky to close the period—a period in which Vandy shot 35.5 percent, gave up 20 points in the paint and was out-rebounded 19-14.

Kentucky started the half doing whatever it wanted to in the first 5+ minutes; a 12-3 run extended its lead to 48-30. The Wildcats never looked back, cruising to victory.

“I don’t think that we’ll perform like this again. Just got to have a little bit more focus on attention to detail,” Stackhouse said. “I didn’t think we had to play the perfect game to beat this team, but I thought we had to have the perfect focus. And I don’t think we had that focus on where we needed to be to win this game.

“We’ll see them again at their place, and hopefully we’ll perform a lot better than we did tonight.”

Reeves had 16 points for Kentucky (14-6, 5-3 SEC), and Oscar Tshiebwe had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

  • Dia’s 14 points was a career high.
  • Jordan Wright (1,011) moved into 49th on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list, passing Perry Wallace (1,010). Austin Bates (1,020) is 48th.
  • The Commodores are now 1-7 this season when trailing at halftime and 2-9 when scoring less than 75 points.
  • Vanderbilt is now 47-155 all time against Kentucky and has lost 13 straight to the Wildcats.
  • Attendance on Saturday was announced as 10,238.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.