The Commodores lost to their third ranked opponent in four games on Tuesday night, looking nothing like the team that took top-ranked Tennessee to overtime last week. The Wildcats came into Nashville having beat three straight ranked opponents, capped by a win over Kansas last weekend. They kicked off a two-game road swing through the SEC in dominating fashion. John Calipari’s Wildcats led by 30 at halftime, behind PJ Washington’s double-double. The final score was 87-52.
It was a route. Kentucky (17-3, 6-1) has now won seven straight and they look real good right now. Calipari believes they will keep improving.
“I teased them at halftime. I told them I was really mad at them, because I don’t want any of my teams playing this well in January,” Calipari was quoted as saying.
Kentucky has now won six consecutive games in this series, with Calipari perfect versus coach Bryce Drew. The Wildcats smothered Vanderbilt in the paint. The Commodores couldn’t get into any rhythm, nor knock down anything from the outside. Washington had 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two steals and two assists, and that was by halftime. When it was over, he’d posted his career-best third straight game with at least 20 points. Washington finished the game with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats didn’t ease up in the second half. They had no mercy on the black and gold. They knocked down their first three shots from beyond the arc. They led by 38 midway through the second half. They would please the crowd (their fans of course) throughout the contest with some monster dunks.
Vanderbilt (9-11, 0-7) has lost eight straight, their longest losing streak since 2003. The Wildcats have held five of their past six opponents below 64 points. They have also held Vanderbilt to its two lowest-scoring games this season.
The Commodores pulled within two points early in the first half, on a three-pointer by Aaron Nesmith. After that, all hell broke loose. Kentucky then, finished the half by outscoring the Commodores 33-5 for a 45-15 halftime lead. The Commodores barely out-scored their 14 turnovers, which Kentucky turned into 16 points.
Nick Richards finished the game with 14 points. Tyler Herro added 12 points. Keldon Johnson scored 11 for the Wildcats.
Saben Lee led the Commodores with 15 points, Matt Ryan had 12. Nesmith scored 11. Freshman phenom Simisola Shittu was held scoreless.
Kentucky visits Florida this upcoming Saturday. Vanderbilt visits Missouri on Saturday night.