LEXINGTON, Ky. — Vanderbilt gave No. 13 Kentucky a run for its money Wednesday at Rupp Arena, but the Wildcats pulled away down the stretch for a 71-62 win.
The Commodores (8-12, 0-7 SEC) trailed by just three with less than five minutes to play, but Kentucky stretched the margin to 65-58 on Tyrese Maxey’s fall-away jumper from the left side of the lane. Nick Richards’ dunk with about 90 seconds to go made it 69-60 and ended any comeback hopes the visitors had.
Freshman Dylan Disu put together his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds – he also had five blocked shots. Junior Saben Lee scored 21, Scotty Pippen Jr. added 12 and Maxwell Evans finished with 10.
Vandy returns home at 7:30 p.m. Saturday to host Florida (12-8, 4-3 SEC).
Vanderbilt didn’t back down early and was within 13-12 after a Disu steal and two-handed dunk. Matthew Moyer’s single free throw moments later tied the game at 13-all.
Disu gave the Dores a 20-18 lead with a 3 from the top of the key and Disu’s 3 from the right wing before falling down made it 28-24. Evans joined in the fun at the 2:32 mark with a layup that kept Vandy ahead 30-26.
With one last possession before halftime, Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse called timeout and drew up one last play. It called for Evans to curl off a screen and drain a 3 – which he did to make it 35-28 Commodores going into the break.
Vandy got 20 points combined from Disu and Lee, forced eight UK turnovers and had 16 points in the paint.
Lee extended the lead to 10 at 40-30 with a triple from the top of the key. Evans then drilled a triple from the left corner making it 43-36 and momentarily quieting the Rupp Arena crowd.
Kentucky (16-4, 6-1 SEC) kept coming and trimmed the deficit to 47-46 on EJ Montgomery’s three-point play eight minutes into the second half. And finally at the 9:30 mark, Montgomery’s putback gave the Wildcats a 52-51 lead.
Richards’ long jumper from the left baseline put Kentucky up 57-53 and Maxey’s 3 moments later made it 60-55. Disu answered with a triple of his own cutting it 60-58 and setting up the pivotal final five minutes – but that would be as close as the Commodores would get down the stretch.
Maxey led four Wildcats in double figures with 17.
• Vanderbilt junior Saben Lee (1,047) passed Todd Milholland (1,053) for 43rd on the program’s all-time scoring list. Bo Wyenandt is 42nd with 1,078.
• Vanderbilt senior Clevon Brown (knee) missed his 11th straight game due to injury.
• Kentucky now leads the series against Vandy 145-47, 193-20 in Lexington and 41-2 at Rupp Arena. The Commodores have played the Wildcats the second-most time in its history behind only Tennessee.
• Attendance on Wednesday was announced as 20,311.