Round 1: Kentucky prevails, 85-72

LEXINGTON-- DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as No. 1 ranked Kentucky downed No. 23 Vanderbilt, 85-78. The loss ended a sparkling SEC start for Vandy and knotted the Commodores and Wildcats into a tie for first place in the SEC East.

Kentucky used red-hot shooting and dominated the boards throughout the game to pick up the SEC win. During the first four minutes of the game, Vanderbilt stayed close to the Wildcats and even led briefly. Jermaine Beal made two three-pointers during that span to pace the visitors. However, Kentucky would step up their defense on the senior point guard, limiting Beal, who would go on to finish with 19 points, to only two more three-point-goals for the rest of the game.

Trailing just 14-11 with 16 minutes remaining in the half things began to unravel for the visitors. The Wildcats, led by Cousins, Patrick Patterson and John Wall outscored Vanderbilt 10-0 over the next four minutes to build a 13-point lead that Vanderbilt would have trouble cutting into for the remainder of the game as they would never again get closer than 11. The Wildcats would go on to make 7-of-12 three pointers in the first half to bulge their lead to 19 with 4:30 remaining. Another three by Beal combined with several A.J. Ogilvy free throws helped the Commodores get the deficit down to 15 at the half as the Vanderbilt headed to the locker room trailing 49-34.

In the second half Vanderbilt improved its field goal shooting from 40 percent to 57 percent and stepped up their defensive effort, but poor 3-point shooting (1-of-6) combined with continued problems on the boards doomed a Commodore comeback. Kentucky would rebuild their lead to 19 on an Andre Liggins' 3-pointer with 12 minutes left in the game. However, a John Jenkins dunk pulled Vanderbilt to within 11 with under eight minutes to go. Jenkins would go on to finish with 10 points. Vandy had the opportunity to pull to within 10 with 5:30 remaining but Jeffery Taylor missed what might have been a spectacular dunk to keep the Wildcat lead at 12 and Kentucky went on to secure the win.

In addition to Beal and Jenkins, Vanderbilt also had double-digit scoring from Ogilvy (12), Taylor (10) and Andre Walker (10). Walker led the Commodores in rebounding with seven. The Wildcats out-rebounded Vanderbilt by a staggering, 41-22, margin.

After the game a somber Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings talked about the Commodore's inability to slow down Cousins, "We were trying to double team him and we told our players what he would do when he was double teamed, and he did it. I certainly had some disappointment in our lack of attention to the things we needed to do to win the game. That was one of them."

Vanderbilt falls to 16-4 (5-1 SEC) with the loss and will next host Mississippi State on Wednesday. Kentucky improves to 20-1 (5-1 SEC). The Wildcats will host Ole Miss on Tuesday. The two teams will meet again on February 20th at Memorial Gym in Nashville. Vanderbilt's all-time record against No. 1 teams is now 8-15.

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