Recap: No. 1 Kentucky 65, Vanderbilt 57

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the second time this season, No. 1 Kentucky got an unexpected scare from an SEC opponent on its home floor.

The Wildcats needed clutch play from sohomore guard Aaron Harrison, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half, to hold off upset-minded Vanderbilt on Tuesday night at Rupp Arena.

Harrison scored seven points down the stretch, including the biggest shot of the night - a 3-pointer from the left corner that gave Kentucky some rare breathing room at 61-54 with 2:09 remaining. The Cats led from opening tip to final buzzer, but did not secure the victory until that shot.

"Aaron basically threw dagger after dagger," UK coach John Calipari said. "... He's as good as any player in the country when he's playing the way he played today in the second half."

The Commodores could get no closer than six the rest of the way, hitting only one of their last six shots from the field as the Cats improved to 18-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC.

In addition to Harrison's strong play, Kentucky also got a big lift from reserve big man Marcus Lee, who scored six consecutive points midway through the second half to keep Vanderbilt at bay. The sophomore center also contributed seven rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in one of his better performances of the season.

"Marcus was terrific," Calipari said.

Added Harrison: "We were out of gas. (Lee) gave us that spark."

Dakari Johnson joined Harrison in double-figure scoring with 10 points, while fellow big men Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in with 10 rebounds and Karl-Anthony Towns blocked a career-high seven shots for UK.

Vanderbilt (11-7, 1-4 SEC) was led by Riley LaChance with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Matthew Fisher-Davis and Damian Jones added 13 points and 11 points, respectively, for the Commodores. Kevin Stallings' club shot 42 percent from the field against the nation's stingiest defense, including a 7-for-18 night from the arc. The Dores made only six of their 12 free throws, however, and turned the ball over 16 times.

In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the night's highs and lows:

WHAT WE LIKED: What's the old saying? A win is a win. Now take it and delete the video immediately. This was a dreadful college basketball game for the most part, but the Cats found a way to dial up their best play when it mattered most to remain undefeated on the season. Beats the alternative.

KEY MOMENT: Leading by only four with just over two minutes remaining, UK's Devin Booker air-balled a 3-pointer from the right corner, but UK came up with the loose ball and Aaron Harrison confidently knocked down a trey from the left corner to generate a huge erruption -- followed by a collective sigh of relief -- from the crowd of 24,249.

STAT OF THE DAY: After blazing the nets from 3-point range in recent games, UK attempted only six from beyond the arc against Vandy. The Cats made four of them.

BY THE NUMBERS:
0 – Devin Booker went 0-for-1 from the arc, marking the first time since Dec. 7 he had not made a 3.
11 - The Cats rejected 21 percent of Vandy's shot attempts on the night, led by Towns' seven blocks.
12 – UK's largest lead of the night despite entering the game as 22-point favorites.
100 – Calipari improved to 96-4 at Rupp Arena, the best record for any UK coach in his first 100 games, just ahead of Rick Pitino's 94-6.

QUOTABLE: "I'm kind of entertained because John (Calipari) can't come in here and talk about his young team tonight because my team's younger than his. I literally call a play we've been running all season long for the first possession of the game, and have a guy completely run to the wrong side of the floor.” – Vandy coach Kevin Stallings.

UP NEXT: Kentucky returns to action Saturday at South Carolina in a noon ET tipoff on ESPN.


AllWildcats Top Stories