Vanderbilt basketball comes up short at Kentucky when last-second shots bounce off rim
An efficient shooting performance from 3-point range secured a first-half lead for Vanderbilt basketball against Kentucky, but costly turnovers allowed the Wildcats to claw back.
Kentucky guard Devin Askew found Davon Mintz in the left corner to convert the go-ahead 3-pointer with 47 seconds remaining. Vanderbilt's Trey Thomas and Maxwell Evans both had 3-point attempts bounce off the rim before the buzzer and Kentucky (3-6, 2-0) escaped with a 77-74 victory Tuesday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Vanderbilt (4-4, 0-2) suffered its ninth straight loss to Kentucky. Coach Jerry Stackhouse simply chalked it up as Kentucky making one more shot than the Commodores. And Stackhouse said the shots that Vanderbilt had were quality ones.
“The one Myles (Stute) had, I’ll take that shot from him 100 of 100 times — that shot he had on the right wing (with 1:21 remaining) that possibly could have gave us a three-point lead, that was a wide-open shot,” Stackhouse said. “I’ll take that every time from one of our better 3-point shooters.”
The Commodores shot 8-for-16 from deep in the first half, entering halftime with a 40-33 lead. But the Wildcats opened the second half with a 17-9 run, as forward Olivier Sarr finished with 24 points, supported by guards Askew (11) and Dontaie Allen (14). Including the late 3-pointer, Mintz finished with 14 points.
Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. largely controlled the offensive tempo, troubling Kentucky defenders, on his way to 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting and eight rebounds.
But Vanderbilt's early lead was because of its trio of forwards. Dylan Disu scored 18 and snagged 10 rebounds before fouling out with 1:17 remaining. The 6-foot-9 sophomore made 3-of-6 3-pointers. Jordan Wright converted all three of his attempts for a season-high 18 points. Stute added 16 points.
"That helped a lot. I was just dealing with what the defense gave me," Pippen Jr. said about his scoring and that of his teammates. "It's about having guys that are able to attack and get other teammates open."
Turnovers hurt Vanderbilt momentum
Vanderbilt had six turnovers in the second half, as Kentucky shaved the lead to one possession down the stretch. A couple bad passes from Thomas and Wright led to eventual points for Kentucky.
An Askew 3-point basket with 15:40 left gave the guard a spark, after going 1-for-4 in the first half. Overall, Kentucky went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc in the second half, after converting 1-of-4 in the first.
What kept Kentucky in the game?
Kentucky failed to score from the field in 6:21 of the first half, going 0-for-6 in that time span. Since being tied at 29 with 4:55 left before the break, Vanderbilt carried a comfortable lead. It was only Sarr's 9-for-10 shooting from the foul line that kept the Wildcats close.
"They shot 32 free throws," Stackhouse said. "We probably haven't fouled that much since I've been here."
Vanderbilt will host Mississippi State on Saturday (noon, SEC Network). The Bulldogs (8-4, 2-1) knocked off No 13 Missouri 78-63 in Starkville on Tuesday.
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