NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Visiting No. 12 Kentucky controlled the second half Tuesday and held off Vanderbilt for a 78-64 win inside Memorial Gymnasium.
Vandy (9-15, 1-10 SEC) led by nine at halftime, but was subsequently outscored 51-28 over the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats (19-5, 9-2 SEC) swept the regular-season season series with the Commodores after escaping a late rally.
Up 62-57 with less than four minutes to play, Immanuel Quickley hit a 3 from the top of the key to extend Kentucky’s lead to eight. Quickley drained another triple one possession later making it a 68-57 game and putting and ending the comeback threat from the home team.
Saben Lee led four Vanderbilt players in double figures with 20. Dylan Disu finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Scotty Pippen Jr. had 13 and Maxwell Evans chipped in 10.
The Commodores return to the road this weekend when traveling to Florida (14-9, 6-4 SEC) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Vanderbilt came out firing Tuesday and took a 7-1 lead on Lee’s layup – a result of him blowing through the Kentucky defense on the left side of the floor. Disu hit a 3 a couple moments later upping the advantage to 10-4.
Braelee Albert hit a left-corner 3 making it 23-13 and Wright’s putback of his own miss made it 25-13. Lee’s 3 at the 4:43 mark ran the score to 34-20.
Vanderbilt went the final 3:51 of the half without a point and the final 4:43 without a made field goal. That allowed Kentucky to end the first 20 minutes on a 5-0 run to get within 36-27 at the break.
The Commodores went 8 of 17 from distance over the first 20 minutes and won the battle of the boards 22-20. Kentucky made just nine field goals in the first half and had six turnovers.
Kentucky, however, started the second half strong and crept within 39-35 on a Nick Richards hook shot. Disu answered with a long 3 from the top of the key minutes later making it 44-35 – but the momentum was short-lived.
Tyrese Maxey’s layup on the fastbreak made it a 46-44 game with 12:41 to go and a pair of EJ Montgomery free throws knotted score at 46-all with 11:48 remaining. Maxey’s layup 30 seconds later put the Wildcats ahead for the first time at 48-46.
They wouldn’t trail again.
Vanderbilt struggled to recover from there. Maxey’s layup after a loose ball scramble with 7:16 remaining made it a 57-48 score and a Richards two-handed slam made it 59-48.
The Commodores had one last shot at a comeback down the stretch, but it was too little, too late.
Maxey led Kentucky with 25 points as the Wildcats won their eighth in a row over their SEC rival.
• Lee (1,152) passed Luke Kornet (1,135; 40th), Mario Moore (1,137; 39th), Babe Taylor (1,144; 38th) and Brett Burrow (1,149; 37th) on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list. Billy Joe Adcock (1,190) is 36th.
• Vanderbilt is now 95-239 against ranked opponents and 65-79 in those games at home.
• The Commodores now trail the series with Kentucky 146-47 and 49-23 at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats have won eight straight against Vandy.
• Vandy is now 0-11 this season when shooting less than 40 percent, 0-10 when scoring less than 70 points, 4-13 when getting out-rebounded by the opponent, 1-13 this season when trailing with five minutes to play and 0-14 when trailing with two minutes to play.
• Attendance on Tuesday was announced as 11,598 giving Vanderbilt a season average of 9,279 after 17 home games this season.