Kentucky Wildcats turn in complete performance in romp over Vanderbilt

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The days of viewing Tyler Ulis' size as a shortcoming are long over.

Just ask Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who watched as Kentucky's 5-foot-9 floor general recorded his sixth 20-plus scoring performance in the last eight games Saturday to lead No. 23 Kentucky to an impressive 76-57 win at Rupp Arena.

"I felt that Ulis was probably the most dominant player on the floor for either team," Stallings said. "... He has a great understanding of the game. He plays at a great pace. He doesn’t get sped up. He can make shots. He’s a great layup maker. He’s got good vision. He’s really got everything. He actually utilizes his size to his advantage. He creates advantages with his stature. That’s a unique skill.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari concurred and admitted he often calls Ulis "little guy" in practice because he knows it will draw more competitive fire from his star player.

https://twitter.com/JDrumUK/status/691037605773905921

Ulis, who scored a game-high 21 points, went 9-of-13 from the field and dished out five assists with only two turnovers in 34 minutes against the Commodores. Jamal Murray and Alex Poythress added 18 and 16 points, respectively, in what may have been the most complete performance for Kentucky (15-4, 5-2 SEC) this season.

The Wildcats shot 55 percent from the field while holding Vanderbilt (11-8, 3-4 SEC) to an uncharacteristic 32 percent and only 5-for-15 from 3-point range. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Commodores.

"Anybody that thinks this team is not getting better, you're not watching," Calipari said. "Dickie (Vitale) came in and talked to me, said you know this is one of your teams that's not getting better. I said, so you're not watching college basketball that much. Like, what are you talking about?

"We're slowly, slowly getting there."

Center Damian Jones led Vanderbilt with 13 points and nine rebounds. Jeff Roberson was the only other Commodore in double figures at 12 points.

In this AllWildcats “Rapid Recap” feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the game… 

KEY MOMENT:

Kentucky built a 37-27 lead at the half, but Vanderbilt's style of play and ability to knock down the 3-point shot made that feel less than comfortable. The Cats finally opened some breathing room with a 26-12 spurt midway through the second half that included two 3-pointers by Murray and one by Ulis. UK hit 10 of 11 shots from the field during the decisive run while the Commodores missed five of six treys as the lead swelled to 67-46

BY THE NUMBERS:

1st - Time this season UK has featured three players with 16 or more points.

9-0 - Cats' record when shooting better than 50 percent from the field this season.

13 - Combined turnovers for UK in its last two games -- six at Arkansas and seven versus Vanderbilt -- the two lowest figures of the season.

31 - Consecutive home-court wins by UK.

22,975 - Fans at Rupp Arena, a near sellout, despite winter storm Jonas dropping 10-15 inches of snow across central and eastern Kentucky the previous 24 hours.

QUOTABLE:

"We just got outplayed in pretty much every facet today. Their defense was better than our defense. Their offense was better than our offense. Their coaching was better than our coaching. That pretty much sums it up for you. Disappointed in our performance and impressed with Kentucky’s.” -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stalllings.

UP NEXT:

Kentucky returns to action Wednesday night at Rupp Arena against Missouri. The Tigers (8-11, 1-5 SEC) lost 66-53 on Saturday at league-leading Texas A&M. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.


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