With a victory against Kentucky on Wednesday night, Vanderbilt basketball ended its third dry spell of the year. The Commodores ended a 14-game losing streak versus the Wildcats in their first triumph at Rupp Arena since 2007.
That feeling when you beat Kentucky on the road … pic.twitter.com/sPRoyrz8G7
— Vanderbilt Men's Basketball (@VandyMBB) March 2, 2023
Road to the Final Buzzer
The Commodores (17-13, 10-7 SEC) are 7-3 since losing to Kentucky 69-53 on Jan. 24 in Nashville. The win was their seventh victory in their last eight games in a win streak that has included victories against Florida and then-No. 6 Tennessee at home.
After trailing 26-21 late in the first half, Vandy went on to lead 34-30 at halftime, 46-35 to start the second and 66-64 with 1:10 left on Oscar Tshiebwe‘s layup after holding off Kentucky’s comeback.
With 42 seconds remaining, Jordan Wright tied the score with a drive from the right wing, and Tyrin Lawrence snagged Antonio Reeves‘ missed jump shot with 20 seconds remaining. Vandy let the timer run out as Wright received a pass from midcourt, dribbled to just about the foul line and hit a jumper off a spin move to win the game.
Vanderbilt Woes Cats’ Senior Night
At a pregame ceremony that also honored forwards Jacob Toppin and Brennan Canada, guards Antonio Reeves and CJ Fredrick, and injured Sahvir Wheeler, who was absent after having an ankle procedure earlier in the day, Tshiebwe garnered the most applause.
A special group of seniors. pic.twitter.com/GaRTCUv4oy
— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 2, 2023
Although the senior class didn’t contribute enough to change the outcome, Tshiebwe and Reeves played their part in a bittersweet farewell. Tshiebwe led the Cats in points (21) and rebounds (45), recording the 45th double-double of his UK career (20). Reeves was next in line with 14 points.
In addition, Toppin grabbed 10 rebounds to resurrect his offensive struggles, including seven points on 1-of-7 shooting and three missed triples.
The Big Picture for Vanderbilt
Even when Liam Robbins hobbled away from the field and didn’t come back, the Commodores didn’t flinch. The Commodores began their routine, connecting from deep, gaining momentum and spreading Kentucky’s defenders. Vandy converted 8 of 24 long-range shots, shooting 40% overall.
After establishing a lead, the Wildcats gave it up by failing to thwart Vandy’s outside game. Kentucky made three of their final 19 attempts from beyond the arc after missing 10 of their first 11. Kentucky was 25 of 35 from the line, with many of their misses coming in crucial shots in the last minutes.
Both teams are set to play on Saturday as Vanderbilt hosts Mississippi State and Kentucky visits Arkansas in its SEC regular-season finale.