Cats slam 'dore on Vandy comeback, 69-63

Associate Publisher
Posted Feb 11, 2012
Keith Bays


#1 Kentucky led by as many as 14 pts before Vandy roars back to take a 2nd half lead.

The Kentucky Wildcats entered Saturday's contest at Vanderbilt a favored by the lines in Vegas, many of the talking heads all but guaranteed a Vandy victory, some went the extra mile and guaranteed the W would go to the Commodores.

Kentucky players didn't play it that way.

Vandy fans thought that the win was assured when Vandy mounted a comeback from a 13 point halftime deficit and tied the game at 48-48.

Darius Miller didn't play it that way. Miller nailed a big three-point field goal, after being saddled most of the game with foul trouble, to put the Cats back on top 51-48.

Vandy surged ahead and took a 55-51 lead with 8:42 remaining on a pair of free throws by senior Festus Ezeli. The Vandy bench was hyped, victory was theirs.

Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb didn't play it that way.

Davis got a rebound putback off his own miss to close the gap to 55-53. Following a Brad Tinsley missed jump shot Davis had a big throw down off of a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist drive and draw assist to tie the game. Jeffery Taylor fouled Davis on the play giving him the and-one opportunity. Following the under 8 timeout Davis nailed the free throw, giving Kentucky a 56-51 lead.

Lamb steals the ball from Taylor on the ensuing possession, leading to a Taylor foul. Miller drove the lane, flips the ball out to the left corner to a waiting Lamb for a wide open 3. Count it, Cats up 59-55.

Lance Goulbourne takes it upon himself to score in the paint.

Davis and Terrence Jones didn't play it that way.

Goulbourne's attempted jumper, blocked by Jones. Goulbourne grabs his own rejected attempt, and goes for a layup. This time it is Davis with the rejection.

Taylor grabbed Goulborne's reject shot and drives, Davis and Jones both meet him and knock the ball away. The foul is called on Davis. Dick Vitale shows the national audience viewing on ESPN the replay. Vitale's conclusion, no foul.

John Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer, drives to the basket. Davis rejection, ball out of bounds.

Taylor drives the left side of the lane, and dishes the ball to Steve Tchiengang for a layup as Kentucky defenders move in for another block attempt.

On the other end of the floor Marquis Teague answers with a mid-range jumper to extend the lead back to four, 61-57.

Vandy has one more comeback in them. Fueled by the home crowd the Commodores go on a 6-0 run.

Following a Goulborne one-of-two trip to the line and a missed jumper by Kidd-Gilchrist Brad Tinsley goes off. Three by Tinsley. Lamb's answer attempt comes up short. On the other end Tinsley hits a jumper, this one a two, to give Vandy a 63-61 lead, 4:09 to play.

Vandy fans became giddy, victory was at hand.

Kentucky players didn't play it that way.

After each team has an empty trip Miller feeds Lamb for a three. Cats back on top 64-63, 3:19 to play.

At 2:49 Vandy coach Kevin Stallings calls the timeout to set up his offense. Jenkins misses a three in an attempt to take the lead.

Kidd-Gilchrist draws the foul and hits both shots to give Kentucky a 66-63 lead with 2:08 on the clock.

Ezeli moves in for a layup. Davis says not in my area code, and the goes out on the baseline.

Taylor with the ball, takes a jumper. Clang!

Kidd-Gilchrist grabs Taylor's miss. 1:50 to play.

Kentucky grinds it out on offense, taking time off the clock. As the shot clock is winding down..4..Teague drives to his left ... 2 ... goes down ... scoops the ball to Miller ... 1, Vandy crowd goes crazy ... Miller's layup is good ... 0. 1:13 remains, Cats lead 68-63.

Vandy's Taylor attempts a three. Not in my neighborhood says Davis with a block of the attempt.

Miller grabs the rejection, outlets to Teague. Tinsley gives the foul.

Teague gives Vandy life with a missed front end of the one-and-bonus attempt. 0:43 to play.

Tinsley goes for a layup, Kentucky defenders impact the attempt. Tinsley grabs his own missed shot, hits Goulbourne waiting on the outside. Three by Goulbourne, off. Kidd-Gilchrist claims the miss, and Taylor gives the quick foul.

Kidd-Gilchrist, who came in shooting 75% on the season and had hit his only two previous attempts, missed the front end of the one-and-bonus. Ezeli with the rebound, Stallings with a timeout before Vandy crosses half court. 0:26 remains in the contest.

Jenkins, guarded by Davis, tries to shake free, takes the three. Davis with an in your face challenge. Tyler Zeller, this is how you do it, the challenge causes a wild shot, short by a bunch. Teague plucks the miss out of the air. Taylor gives the foul, his fifth.

Teague again misses the first shot, but gets the bonus by way of Vandy's tenth team foul. Up, and good. Cats lead, 69-63. 0:10 to play.

Game is all but over, Vandy down six.

Tinsley brings it up, shoots for three, 0:05. Clang!

0:03, Kidd-Gilchrist grabs the board, 0:02, all he has to do is hold it, 0:01, and Kentucky wins!

"We had to fight our way back," said a pleased John Calipari after the game during an interview with ESPN's Erin Andrews.

When asked about the stretch run Calipari made it clear how his team made the run.

"We defended them," said Calipari.

Later in the interview room Calipari was asked about the Vanderbilt environment. Vandy has a rowdy crowd, and an unusual bench configuration that makes life tough for opposing teams.

“Every game we play is like walking into this… We get the other team’s best shot and after the game, there are 25 cameras… Any of the places we have been end up being like this. We handled this game like we have other and will handle future games the same way. On our board, I tell the team to love the road, love this, relish this,” said Calipari.

Vanderbilt's coach was asked in the postgame interview if the game was in doubt.

“I never thought we were going to lose, not even at halftime. I thought we’d come out in the second half like we did and get on top of the game,” said Stallings.

Kentucky players didn't play it that way.

Kentucky was led in scoring by Lamb, who scored a game high 16. Lamb was joined in double figure scoring by Davis(16) , Jones (14) and Teague (13). Teague had a game high 8 assists, with just one turnover. Kentucky blocked 12 Commodore shots behind the play of Davis (7) and Jones (4). The Cats out rebounded the 'Dores on the strength of board work by Jones(9), Davis(8), and Kidd-Gilchrist(7).

Vandy's Jenkins and Taylor entered the game as the top two scorers in the SEC. Both were held below their averages with 15 and 13 points respectively.

Kentucky's defense once again holds an opponent below 40% from the field, as Vandy hit only 36.5% of its field goals. The Wildcats hit 48.

Kentucky does not play again until next Saturday, when they take on Mississippi at Rupp Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on SEC Network.


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