Down to the wire — Vandy falls to Kentucky at home

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe attempts basket in between three Commodore defenders. (photo: Vanderbilt Athletics)

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe attempts basket in between three Commodore defenders. (photo: Vanderbilt Athletics)

Vanderbilt (8-8, 2-2) came within two points, 83-81, on Jeff Roberson’s put back with 17 seconds left in the game. After that, the rally fizzled. The Wildcats squeaked out a win Tuesday night at Memorial Gym thanks to freshman guard Malik Monk. The final score was 87-81. A long way from Rupp Arena, Kentucky blue was definitely in the building.

Monk scored six points in the final 32 seconds, as number six Kentucky remained unbeaten in the SEC. Vanderbilt’s last shot was off target with nine seconds remaining, and Monk iced the win with two foul shots. Monk, the SEC’s leading scorer, and De’Aaron Fox were quickly in foul trouble to start the game. When they departed to the bench, the Commodores started gathering buckets.

Monk finished the night with 18 points. Isaiah Briscoe led the Wildcats with 23 points. Fox had 22 and Edrice Adebayo added 14.

The Wildcats led 45-41 at the half, but failed to obtain a double-digit lead in the second half. These young Wildcats haven’t yet been in many close games this season. They got into foul trouble early. They also had their worst night shooting from three, finishing just one of nine. They did, however, shoot 50% from the field.

Kentucky (14-2, 4-0) came in having beaten its first three SEC opponents by 20 or more points. They scored the first nine points of the game, looking as if they would steamroll the Commodores on their own floor. Vandy finally got their act together, ensuring Kentucky found themselves in their tightest game in league play so far this season.

Vanderbilt last led 53-51 on a three-point play by Riley LaChance, staying close despite struggling from beyond the arc, going just 8 of 29. The SEC’s best shooters shot 43% from the field. Many layups and close shots would fall short on this night.

Fisher-Davis, Roberson and LaChance each scored 19 points for Vanderbilt. Luke Kornet added 16 points.

On a side note, a male fan hit a half-court shot at halftime to win a three-year lease on an Acura. The crowd went crazy. Part of his celebration was a high-five from Michigan football Coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh is in town for the AFCA convention.

The Commodores host hated rival Tennessee on Saturday night. Game time is 7:30.