No. 2 Kentucky 58, No. 17 Vanderbilt 56
On a night when the shots just weren’t falling for No. 2
Kentucky, John Wall still managed to deliver another tight win for
Vanderbilt limited Kentucky to a season-worst 35.8 percent
shooting, but a pair of free throws and a clutch block by Wall in
the final 20 seconds gave the Wildcats a 58-56 win over the
17th-ranked Commodores on Saturday night.
“He just fought his way,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of
Wall, who missed eight of his 11 shots and finished with 13 points.
“That will to win, refuse to lose. You just do what you got to
Kentucky (26-1, 11-1 SEC), which beat Vanderbilt 85-72 on Jan.
30, grabbed a two-game lead over the Commodores in the SEC East and
dealt them their first home loss since Jan. 25, 2009.
It was Kentucky’s second close call in as many games after
pulling out an 81-75 overtime win at Mississippi State on
Wall’s free throws with 20 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats a
57-53 lead, but John Jenkins answered with a 3-pointer to pull
Vanderbilt (20-6, 9-3) within a point.
Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe missed a pair of free throws, but Wall
bailed him out by blocking another 3-point attempt by Jenkins on
the other end and grabbing the ball.
“That shot was going in,” Jenkins said. “He bit, but I went
up too fast. He made a good play.”
Wall made one of two free throws for a two-point lead with 2.5
seconds to play.
“Somebody steps up,” said Kentucky forward DeMarcus Cousins,
who led the Wildcats with 19 points. “Maybe he doesn’t score
20-plus points, he still is going to make key plays down the
stretch, which helps the team.”
Even still, the Commodores had one more chance.
A.J. Ogilvy caught a long in-bounds pass by Darshawn McClellan,
but his runner in the lane bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
“I was really comfortable on that shot,” Ogilvy said. “I had
a good look. I can make that shot eight of 10 (times).
Unfortunately, today was one of the two that I missed.”
With that, Kentucky breathed another big sigh of relief, four
days after edging the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss.
The teams traded the lead 11 times and tied 14 times, and
Kentucky held a 27-25 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats relied on their power in the paint to overcome poor
outside shooting. The Commodores never let them get too comfortable
anywhere on the floor, limiting them to 3 for 16 from behind the
“I love this: shooting 35 percent and 18 percent from the 3 and
winning anyway,” Calipari said.
Patrick Patterson had 13 points and 13 rebounds for
Taylor scored 17 points for Vanderbilt, which was a woeful 2 for
20 from 3-point range.
Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang both fouled out with more than
5 minutes remaining trying to disrupt Cousins and Patterson inside.
Ogilvy picked up his fourth foul with 10:11 left.
“It was very physical, hard-fought, tough game,” Vanderbilt
coach Kevin Stallings said. “There wasn’t any backing down going
Vanderbilt, the SEC’s most prolific free-throw shooting team,
used free throws to keep up with the Wildcats, and a pair by
Jeffery Taylor with 6:08 to go gave the Commodores a 49-45 lead,
their largest of the game.
The lead didn’t last long. Thanks to some free throws by
Cousins, a layup by Bledsoe and a 3-pointer by Patterson, Kentucky
scored the next eight points to grab a 53-49 lead with 2:57
The Commodores made a few costly mistakes on defense that gave
Kentucky some easy points. The Wildcats turned Vanderbilt’s 15
turnovers into 19 points.
It was Kentucky’s first win in Nashville and first sweep of the
regular season series since 2005.
“You’ve got to grind it,” Calipari said. “We don’t force our
will on the other team. We want to play different ways. When you
get in that NCAA tournament, you don’t know if you are playing a
team that is going to play fast, play slow. You’ve got to beat them