Ashton Hagans nearly recorded a triple-double, and Tyrese Maxey scored 25 points to lead No. 12 Kentucky defeat Vanderbilt 78-64. The Cats recorded 12 blocks and overcame a double-digit Commodore advantage for the fifth time in the last seven games against them.
Kentucky did not start the game well, allowing Vandy to score seven of the game’s first eight points. The Commodores were lights-out from behind-the-arc, going 8-of-17 in the opening half minutes, Forward Dylan Disu was 3-of-4 from outside, and guard Maxwell Evans was 2-of-5 over those twenty minutes.
Vanderbilt went up 14 on a three from Saben Lee with 4:43 left in the first half. The Cats began climbing back after that, ending with a 7-2 spurt to go into the break down 36-27.
Nick Richards opened the second half with a flurry, blocking three shots and scoring four points before the first media timeout. The margin was down to six. Disu made another three shortly after, but the Cats flexed their muscle over the nearly eight-and-a-half-minute stretch that followed.
Hagans and Maxey answered the Disu basket with dunks on back-to-back possessions, sending the Big Blue contingent in attendance into cheers. A Nate Sestina block on Vandy’s next offensive possession was followed by a Quickley three, and momentum shifted to the Cats.
EJ Montgomery tied the game with a pair of free throws, and a Maxey layup gave Kentucky its first lead of the night with 11:16 remaining in the game. Maxey added a three fifty-five seconds later to put them up 51-46. A Richards’ dunk capped off a 22-4 run from the 14:40 mark to 6:11.
The Commodores turned up the pressure after the extended run, and got the results they wanted, forcing two bad Kentucky turnovers with their press to make it a five-point game. But Immanuel Quickley responded. He nailed a three from the top of the key, and another on the next possession made it an eleven-point game. Both were assisted by Hagans, who finished the 8-0 run with a layup. The final blow came on an alley-oop from Quickley to Richards, putting the Cats up 72-59 with just under two minutes to go.
Hagans ended with 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. It is the second game where he came close to a triple-double, falling an assist and rebound shy of the feat against Alabama back in January. Kentucky (19-5, 9-2 SEC) shot 61.3% in the second half, including 4-of-4 from deep, outscoring the Commodores 51-28. 13 of Quickley's 18 points came in the frame.
Vanderbilt (9-15, 1-10 SEC) couldn’t quite conjure the well-known “Memorial Magic” that helped it end the longest conference losing streak in SEC history against then-No. 18 LSU last Tuesday. The Commodores went just 3-of-11 from three-point range and only 7-of-14 at the line in the second half. Saben Lee led them in scoring with 20 points.
Each team had four players in double figures. Kentucky out-rebounded Vandy 23-10 in the second half, and outscored it 40-20 in the paint for the game.
The Commodores travel to Gainesville to take on Florida on Saturday night. Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center to face Ole Miss – who knocked off rival Mississippi State 83-58 this evening – on Saturday as well. Tip is set for 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN app.