The Commodores held the No. 16 Wildcats to only one basket over the final nine-plus minutes to earn a much-needed 74-62 win that may have solidified their NCAA Tournament chances.
Vandy (18-11, 10-6 SEC) won its third consecutive game and moved within one game of league-leading Kentucky and Texas A&M, which won 84-69 at Missouri.
Matthew Fisher-Davis led four Commodores in double figures with a career-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers that helped his team overcome a seven-point deficit in the second half. Jeff Roberson followed with 16 points, while Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin added 15 and 14, respectively.
"Vanderbilt played a great game and fought like heck to win," UK head coach John Calipari said. "And when it got rough, they out-fought us. That's what this came down to. And it would have been nice for Tyler (Ulis) to make two or three shots. Maybe it would have been a different game."
Kentucky (21-8, 11-5 SEC) got a game-high 33 points and nine rebounds from freshman guard Jamal Murray, but it was a rough day for sophomore point guard Ulis, who went 5-for-20 from the floor and finished below his average with just 12 points. Senior forward Alex Poythress went scoreless before fouling out with 6:25 remaining.
The Cats hurt their chances with a woeful 10-for-23 shooting performance at the free-throw line.
UK played its second game without starting forward Derek Willis, who suffered a severe ankle sprain on Feb. 20 in the Cats' loss to Texas A&M. Without him, Murray is the only player to make a 3-pointer for the Cats.
In this AW "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the Cats' loss...
Trailing 45-38 with 17:49 remaining, Vandy went on a 13-2 run that included a three-point play by Jones and a pair of treys by Fisher-Davis. Kentucky never regained the lead as they closed the game 1-for-12 from the field and missed six of their 10 free throw attempts.
BY THE NUMBERS:
0 - Bench points for UK.
8 - Consecutive games over 20 points for the Cats' Murray, who recorded his third 30-plus scoring game of the season.
+10 - Vandy edge on points in the paint.
11 - Points off turnovers for Dores. UK committed only five turnovers, but it paid for all of them.
0-for-16 - Kentucky 3-point shooting other than Murray.
21 - First-half points by Murray, the most ever for a Calipari player at UK.
"The thing that disappoints me is this was like an NCAA Tournament game, and we had some guys that didn't ring the bell." -- UK head coach John Calipari.
The Cats travel to Gainesville, Fla., on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. ET matchup with the Gators. Florida (17-11, 8-7 SEC) plays at LSU later tonight.