Vanderbilt vs Kentucky: Live Score, Reaction and Analysis

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Vanderbilt vs Kentucky: Live Score, Reaction and Analysis
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats have been nearly unstoppable in college basketball this year, but Vanderbilt serves as a team that has at least come close to stopping them.

Twice.

Today, the Commodores get a third chance.

Kentucky really has nothing to play for, as it already has the overall No. 1 seed locked up, barring the committee going absolutely crazy. Still, the Wildcats appear to be on a mission, and you can expect them to come out with full force this afternoon.

Vanderbilt has lost both meetings with the 'Cats this year, but those have come by just six and nine points. The 'Dores have a balanced attack on offense, which is led by John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor.

Follow along here for live updates as these teams battle it out for the SEC tournament title.

 

Vanderbilt wins

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Wow.

What a win by the Commodores. They game-planned perfectly for the Wildcats, who looked unbeatable, and even when Kentucky started to pull away and had the crowd behind them, Vandy stayed tough and fought back.

Ezeli, Taylor and Jenkins were absolutely terrific, and Vanderbilt is a team to everyone should be scared of in the coming weeks.

Vandy was a Top 10 team coming into the season, and it looked like it today.

Don't forgot about Kentucky, though. They are still the best team in the country, but this shows there are ways to beat them. If teams sit back and make the Wildcats hit shots from the perimeter, the Wildcats aren't perfect.

It will take a cold-shooting night from Kentucky, but at least teams know it's possible to beat the Wildcats now.

 

Kedren Johnson giving late spark off the bench

Johnson has hit two huge shots and then he pulled Anthony Davis away from the basket so Festus Ezeli could draw a foul inside the paint.

Marquis Teague just missed a 3 and Kentucky is forced to foul.

Vanderbilt leads 69-63 with 25 seconds left. Wow. What a turnaround for the 'Dores. 

 

Vanderbilt staying in it

It looked like the Wildcats were about to pull away, but Vanderbilt has stayed strong and only trail 62-59 with just under three minutes to go.

The Wildcats have gotten back to taking long jumpers and 3-pointers, and they just haven't been hitting. Also, the 'Dores are doing a good job of grabbing the rebounds.

Kidd-Gilchrist has fouled out.

This should be an exciting final three minutes. Whatever happens, both of these teams are obviously huge forces heading into the NCAA Tournament. 

 

Kentucky getting inside now

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Wildcats, despite playing with Gilchrist, are doing a much better job at getting inside and crashing the offensive boards.

Simply put, they are controlling the paint on the offensive end.

Darius Miller, who got the start, has been especially big with 16 points.

Vanderbilt isn't going away, but it needs to get back to what it was doing at the beginning of the game. They trail 59-54 with just under eight minutes to play. 

 

Kidd-Gilchrist picks up fourth foul

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

He will sit with 13 minutes to go. Gilchrist is Kentucky's best player at getting to the hoop, so that really hurts the Wildcats.

48-48.

 

Kentucky leads, 46-45

Not much has changed in the game-plan for either team. The Commodores are still trying to get Kentucky to launch threes and Kentucky is still more comfortable getting inside.

On the other end, Vanderbilt is still trying to get in transition.

Honestly, both teams look very comfortable on offense in the second half. It doesn't look like either team will pull away in this one.

 

Halftime

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It's all tied up at 37 as we enter the half. I think if Vanderbilt can get Kentucky to launch 15 threes again in the second half, it has a very good chance at winning.

If the Wildcats get out in transition like they did near the end of the first half, however, this game belongs to Kentucky.

What's more, Vanderbilt has to be happy about out-rebounding Kentucky, 15-13. Not many teams can say they've done that.

Jeffrey Taylor leads the 'Dores with 13 points and five rebounds. When he contributes like this, Vanderbilt is tough to beat. Jenkins is also shooting well, but he'll have to more involved in the second half.

On the other side, Darius Miller paces Kentucky with eight points in a very balanced attack. Freshman Kyle Wiltjer has given an important contribution, hitting two 3-pointers.

If he can add a little bit of depth for Kentucky, that's a good sign for the Wildcats. 

Anthony Davis has quietly filled up the stat sheet, but the 'Dores are limiting him as well as possible. 

 

Kentucky getting in transition now

The Wildcats have forced a few turnovers and gotten into transition. When they are able to do that, they are absolutely unstoppable.

And it shows.

The 'Cats have scored seven straight points—two came on free throws after head coach Kevin Stallings received a technical—to take 30-28 lead.

Vandy just came back with a layup, so it's 30-30 now.

 

Nothing is changing, and it's working for Vandy

Vandy's solid perimeter defense continues to force Kentucky into jump-shots, and the Wildcats continue to miss them. They are 1-for-9 from deep and just 7-for-22 overall.

On offense, the 'Dores continue to push the tempo and get open looks for John Jenkins, who has nine points on three 3-pointers.

Festus Ezeli is also doing a good job of moving Anthony Davis around, and not letting the freshman disrupt on the defensive end.

As I'm typing, Kentucky puts up five quick points. Vandy leads 28-23.

 

This is how to beat Kentucky

Vanderbilt is turning this game into a perimeter shooting contest, and Vanderbilt has the clear advantage in that department, as John Jenkins is showing.

If they can continue to keep Kentucky out of the middle and keep trading jump shots, the 'Dores have a very good chance.

That's a lot easier said than done, however. Kentucky has gotten into the paint on the last few possessions, and it's clear that's what the 'Cats want. 

Vandy is 3-for-6 from deep. Kentucky is 1-for-6. Vanderbilt leads 19-16 with nine minutes to play. 

 

Vanderbilt being physical to start

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I like Vanderbilt's early physicality, which I'm not sure is really a word, but it's used all the time, so I'll go with it.

The 'Dores are letting Kentucky shoot the 3 and punishing the Wildcats when they try to drive the lane. That's what they'll have to do all game on defense.

On offense, Vanderbilt is concentrating on getting into transition and is really quickening the pace. Even if the 'Dores don't get into transition, they are getting a shot off early in the offense.

It's working so far, as they lead 11-10.

 

Important Players hit open Threes

Terrence Jones and Jeffery Taylor, both key players for their respective teams, have looked good early and each has hit a 3-pointer.

Anthony Davis appears to have tweaked his left shoulder after a nice steal, but it doesn't look too serious.

Kidd-Gilchrist is in and Kentucky leads, 9-4.

 

Darius Miller gets the start

Apparently Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has given up his starting spot to Miller in an attempt to get Miller, who has yet to score this tournament, going early. 

What a fantastic move by the young freshman. We'll see if it works. 

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