Despite the frigid shooting Vanderbilt was in position to tie or win the game at the end. With just two seconds remaining and trailing 58-56, Vanderbilt's Darshawn McClellan lofted a pass to the top of the key to A.J. Ogilvy. Ogilvy's shot bounced off the front of the rim and the Wildcats celebrated win No. 26.
Good rebounding is what helped the Commodores nearly overcome a very poor shooting game. Vandy out rebounded Kentucky, 40-36. It was the first loss of the season by the Commodores when out rebounding its opponent. Steve Tchiengang and Andre Walker each had eight rebounds lead Vandy. Guard Brad Tinsley added six more boards.
In the first half Vanderbilt jumped on top, 2-0, on a bucket by Ogilvy but the lead would be short lived. Kentucky, behind 3-pointers by John Wall and Darius Miller, built an early 6-point lead five minutes into the game. Vanderbilt battled back and to take a 17-16 lead after a thunderous dunk by Jeffery Taylor with eight minutes to go. But two free throws by Eric Bledsoe gave the Wildcats back a 22-20 lead with 4:09 before halftime. The Cats went on to build a 5-point lead before Vanderbilt's Taylor made three free throws in the final two minutes of the half to make the score, 27-25, Kentucky at the half.
The second half was marred early on when Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe clearly gave Vanderbilt's Taylor an intentional violent shove. Officials inexplicably allowed play to continue for several seconds before finally blowing a whistle. After the two players exchanged angry looks and words, each player was assessed with a technical foul. The second half went on to be a war of attrition with fouls piling up as Vanderbilt's Tchiengang and Festus Ezeli fouled out while A.J. Ogilvy and Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins each picked up four fouls. Neither team led by more than four points in the half and the score would be tied nine times in the second stanza.
Two more free throws by Taylor put Vanderbilt up by four, 49-45, with six minutes to go. A minute later, Tchiengang picked up his fifth foul when he ran into Cousins and two free throws later Vanderbilt's lead was cut to two. After a missed Brad Tinsley 3-pointer, a Bledsoe layup tied the score at 49-49. With four minutes to go Patrick Patterson's three-pointer gave the Wildcats a 52-49 edge. After another Cousins made free throw to increase the UK lead to four, Jermaine Beal's driving layup cut the Kentucky lead to 53-51 with just under two minutes to go. An Andre Walker bucket tied the score at 53 with 1:07 to go. However, Wall scored four straight points including a layup and two free throws to put Kentucky back up by four with 20 seconds to go.
Vanderbilt's John Jenkins made only the second three pointer of the game for the Commodores with 14 seconds remaining to pull his team to within one. With four seconds left, Beale fouled Wall who made one of two free throws to give the Cats a two-point advantage. After a timeout, Vanderbilt attempted the unsuccessful long pass play from McClellan to Ogilvy.
The Commodores were led in scoring by Taylor with 17. Ogilvy added nine. No other Vanderbilt player scored more than six points. Kentucky's Cousins led all scorers with 19.
Vanderbilt falls to 20-6 (9-3 SEC). Next up the Commodores will be Georgia on Thursday night at Memorial Gym. Kentucky improves to 26-1 (11-1 SEC).
DeMarcus Cousins (L) and Jeffery Taylor (R) battle for position (VM/Stan Jones).