LEXINGTON, Ky.-- A bewildered Vanderbilt team provided little resistance to No. 2-ranked Kentucky Wednesday. With its 42nd SEC Championship already clinched, the Wildcats devastated the Commodores 106-44 on Senior Night at Rupp Arena, and gave Vanderbilt its worst whipping in 56 years.
It was a one-sided contest between two teams headed in completely opposite directions. The victory was the 19th in a row for Kentucky (25-3, 15-0 SEC), which with a win at Florida on Saturday can become only the third team in SEC history to go through the conference slate undefeated. Vanderbilt, which lost its eighth straight and fell to 10-16, 3-12, will finish with its worst conference record since World War II unless it rebounds to defeat Tennessee at home on Saturday.
The Commodores were simply outclassed on both ends of the court. Twelve players scored for the Wildcats, who as a team shot 52% from the field and connected on 10-of-21 3-pointers. On defense the Cats held Vanderbilt to 31% from the field and scored 36 of their points off 22 Vanderbilt turnovers. On the glass Kentucky was equally dominant, gathering 56 boards to Vandy's 34.
The 106 points were the most scored against Vandy since Rick Pitino's Wildcats beat Vandy 120-81 in February, 1996. That Kentucky team went on to win a National Championship. The 62-point margin of defeat was the biggest since an Adolph Rupp-coached Kentucky team defeated Vanderbilt 98-29 in 1947.
The Wildcats had four players in double figures, while the Commodores had none. Erik Daniels led the Cats in scoring with 20 points. Marquis Estill, one of three seniors playing their last home game for Kentucky, had his way with Vanderbilt underneath all night with 17 points and 9 rebounds. Gerald Fitch scored 15, and freshman Kelenna Azubuike dazzled the crowd with 16 late points. Matt Freije led Vandy with 9 points, while Corey Smith and Julian Terrell each had 8.
The Wildcats pounced on Vanderbilt from the opening tip and began the game with a 15-2 run. Kentucky led 23-7 before Vanderbilt assembled its biggest scoring flurry of the night-- the Commodores fought back to a 36-23 deficit after a Matt Freije 4-point play.
But Kentucky cruised to a 48-29 halftime lead and never looked back. The Wildcats held Vandy to 15 points the entire second half-- one less than the Commodores scored in the second half against UK in a 74-52 loss on Jan. 14-- while scoring 58 themselves.
The Commodores will finish the regular season with a road record of 0-11.
Vanderbilt closes the regular season Saturday at Memorial Gym vs. Tennessee, the final game before the SEC Tournament in New Orleans. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. CST. The Vols (16-10, 8-7) defeated Mississippi State 59-49 at home Wednesday, and still hold hopes for an NCAA Tournament invitation.