EditorsNote: Significant changes throughout
No. 18 Kentucky held service at home Saturday with a hard-fought 56-47 victory over Vanderbilt at Lexington, Ky.
Vandy hit five of its first six shots, three of them 3-pointers, sprinted to a 13-4 lead early and led by as many as 12 in the first half. The Commodores played a zone that seemed to completely confuse the Kentucky offense.
But Kentucky began to claw its way back in the final 10 minutes of the half, eventually cutting the gap to 30-28 at halftime.
Kentucky (12-3, 2-1 SEC) got a 3-pointer from Keldon Johnson and then a steal and layup by Ashton Hagans early in the second half that gave the Wildcats a 35-30 lead they never relinquished.
Still, Vandy (9-6, 0-3) hung around until the midway point of the half, but Kentucky’s Immanuel Quickley drained a jumper, followed by another Hagans steal and dunk, stretching the lead to 44-37. From that point, the Wildcats gradually pulled away.
Overall, Hagans and Johnson paced Kentucky with 15 points each. Quickley added 12 for the Wildcats. Reid Travis grabbed 12 rebounds, and Hagans dished out four assists and had three steals.
As a team, Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field (22 of 44) but hit just 4 of 16 3-point attempts. Kentucky won the rebounding battle 38-21 and turned the ball over three more times than the Commodores (15-12).
Vanderbilt was led by Aaron Nesmith’s 11 points. He was the only Commodore in double figures.
As a team, the Commodores hit 36.2 percent from the field (17 of 47) and just 28 percent from the 3-point line (7 of 25) despite making its first three of the game.
The win was Kentucky’s 13th straight at home.
It also drew coach John Calipari within 10 victories of tying 1978 NCAA champion coach Joe B. Hall with 297 wins as UK coach. The all-time win total mark held by Adolph Rupp is 875.
Kentucky goes back on the road with a contest at Georgia on Tuesday evening. Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media