Vanderbilt Men Drop SEC Opener, 70-60

The Commodores dropped their Southeastern Conference opener 70-60 to the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon.

"We are disappointed, of course. We had about a 10-minute stretch there in the second half where we let the game get away from us. We took some bad shots and had some turnovers and that turned into transition baskets for them. We lost some of our composure in the first half and again in the second half. I thought, all in all, our guys fought hard. I was proud of the fight we had in us and I thought we played as hard as I could have hoped for. It is a tough task to come into Rupp Arena against a very, very good Kentucky basketball team. We started three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior and it is hard to come in here like that. Last year we had three seniors and it was hard then. This is a tough and great place to play. We are disappointed that we didn't get the job done but I am proud of our fight and effort," Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said after the game.

The Dores got off to a great start on their first possession when Darshawn McClellan hit a three, and they would lead for most of the first half. The Black and Gold lead was 25-19 with 5:46 left in the half, but Kentucky would close the half on a 12 to run to take a 31-27 lead into the intermission.

The Wildcats opened the second half right where the left off in the first half. Led by Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks, Kentucky held a 62-43 lead with 4:53 left to play in the game. That was when the Commodores decided to get going. A Jermaine Beal jumper sparked a 17-4 run that would help Vandy close the lead to 66-60 with 47 seconds left to play.

"We made a couple of shots and we got a couple of deflections and steals. Maybe Kentucky got a little casual and thought they had the game won and that allowed us to get back into the game," Stallings said about the comeback.

Ultimately it would be too little too late as the Cats would make all four of their free throws in the final minute to ice the win. This young Commodore team proved on Saturday that there is no quit in them even when it appears the odds are stacked against them.

Beal led the Dores in scoring with 18. The only other Dores in double figures for the game were Jeffery Taylor with 15 and Brad Tinsley with 11.

Meeks led all scores with 21, and the Wildcats also got double figures from Ramon Harris with 12, Patterson with 11 and Perry Stevenson with 10.

The Commodores will try to even their conference record on Wednesday night when the defending SEC Tournament Champion Georgia Bulldogs travel to Memorial Gym. The Bulldogs are also 0-1 after losing at home to Tennessee on Saturday. That game tips off at 7 p.m.

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