Cold-shooting Vanderbilt falls to Kentucky, 69-54

LEXINGTON, Ky.-- Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 18 points as the Kentucky Wildcats took advantage of cold Vanderbilt shooting to hand the Commodores their first SEC loss of the 2004-05 season, 69-54. The loss was Vanderbilt's 28th straight at Rupp Arena since the facility opened in the mid-1970s.

Vanderbilt wasted no time making a 3-point shot. Just five seconds into the game senior Dawid Przybyszewski drilled a shot from beyond the arc to give Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead. Moments later Kentucky took the lead when Randolph Morris scored on a dunk to put the home team up, 4-3.

A Rajon Rondo lay-up with 15:40 remaining in the half put Kentucky up, 6-3. Vanderbilt answered with a 9-0 run and took a 12-6 lead on Corey Smith's jump shot with 11:50 remaining in the half.

Kentucky was able to chip away at the Vandy lead over the next six minutes. Chuck Hayes' free throws tied the game at 21 with 5:45 remaining in the half. Later, a Hayes lay-up put the Cats up by 6 with less than a minute left in the half. Vanderbilt's Mario Moore sank a 3-point shot to make the halftime score 33-30. Moore had an off-night shooting, connecting on just 2-of-9 3-point attempts while scoring 9 points.

The Commodores got off on the wrong foot in the second half as Kentucky scored 5 quick points to take a 38-30 lead. Vanderbilt would never recover, as the Commodores never quite found the outside shooting rhythm they had discovered in the Alabama and Tennessee victories. A Rondo dunk gave the 'Cats a 42-34 edge with 14:05 remaining in the game. The freshman went to be the game's high scorer with 18 points.

Two Corey Smith free throws got Vanderbilt back within 5 at 46-41, but that was as close as they would get in the second half. Smith went on to lead Vanderbilt in scoring with 16 points.

A 13-0 Kentucky run made things really ugly for the visitors and gave the home team a 67-46 lead with only 2:35 remaining in the game.

Corey Smith scored 5 points in the last minute to make the final score 69-54.

After the game, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings acknowledged that his team didn't play well or shoot well but took responsibility for the loss. "We just didn't play well, and that's my fault. Our guys have been playing so well and so hard and we played hard tonight but we just didn't shoot well. We didn't defend as well as we are capable of defending either."

The loss ended a seven-game Vanderbilt win streak. Vanderbilt, which fell to 11-5 (2-1 SEC), hosts Florida on Saturday. Kentucky (11-2, 2-0 SEC) travels to Georgia on Saturday.

Vanderbilt's Dawid Przybyszewski tugs at the jersey of Kentucky's Chuck Hayes as gets ready to block his shot attempt during the first half of their game Wednesday in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke) Top Stories