Commodores erase 16-point deficit only to fall at buzzer

Friday, January 11, 2013 at 1:28am

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings wished for some Memorial Magic.

Unfortunately, Kentucky slurped up the last ounce on Thursday night.

After a controversial no call on an apparent shot-clock violation, Kedren Johnson still had a chance to sink the game-winning shot. But his 3-pointer at the buzzer clanked off the back rim and the Commodores lost 60-58 in the Southeastern Conference opener in front of a sold-out crowd of 14,316 at Memorial Gymnasium.

“I told my son as I was driving into the game that it would be nice for something magical to happen in Memorial,” Stallings said. “When that ball went to Kedren that’s what flashed through my mind.”

The Commodores (6-7, 0-1 SEC) erased a 16-point, second-half deficit with an 18-0 run. Sheldon Jeter’s two-handed dunk with 6:11 left gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the night, 48-46. But Kentucky (10-4, 1-0), the defending national champ, jumped back in front and led 58-55 with less than a minute.

After a missed 3-pointer, the Commodores needed a stop, and it appeared they got one. With 18.3 seconds left, Nerlens Noel shot a floater as the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the shot clock, but officials didn’t wave off the made shot. Replays confirmed that the shot was late, with a red zero on the clock.

Stallings immediately called a timeout and emphatically pleaded to the referees to call a shot clock violation, but officials told Stallings plays involving the shot clock aren't reviewable.

“I was right there. I feel like the ball was still in his hands,” Johnson said.

“I'm not going to do anything to take away from what was a great college basketball game,” Stallings said. “We're not going to talk about a call that might have or might not have. It was close and those were three of the best (referees) in the country out there tonight and they officiated a great game. So I’m not going to belabor whether or not they missed one call because they got a lot of them right.”

The Commodores still had a chance to win the game. Johnson, who scored a game-high 18 points, hit a 3-pointer to pull within two. Then, on the ensuing inbounds play, Kyle Fuller slapped a pass off Kentucky’s Julius Mays to give Vanderbilt possession with 6.7 seconds left.

Rod Odom received the inbounds but was immediately covered. He slung a pass to Shelby Moats, who was knocked down by a Kentucky defender but managed to pass the ball off to a wide-open Johnson. In front of the Vanderbilt bench, he heaved up a shot as time expired.

“I knew it was a little bit too much to the right after I let it go,” Johnson said. “Sometimes those still have a chance. Unfortunately, that one didn’t go in for me.”

That Vanderbilt would have a shot to win the game seemed improbable at halftime.

Kentucky led 35-24 at the break after shooting 57.7 percent in the first half. The Commodores missed 19 of their opening 24 shots and shot just 27.8 percent before halftime.

The Wildcats grabbed a 47-31 lead with 13:47 left on an offensive rebound by Archie Goodwin. Then Vanderbilt switched to a 2-3 zone defense and Kentucky went cold. Attacking the glass, diving on the floor, the Commodores came alive. They held the Wildcats scoreless for nearly eight minutes.

“They just outworked us,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They beat us to 50-50 balls. They beat us to long rebounds. We were lucky to win the game.”

“Odom finished with 12 points. Moats came off the bench, and was one point shy of a double-double by setting career-highs with nine points and 10 rebounds. Despite facing a much taller and bigger frontcourt, Vanderbilt outrebounded Kentucky 42-37 and hauled down 20 offensive rebounds.

“I feel like we kept our composure a couple times when maybe earlier in the season it would have been lost a little bit quicker," Johnson said. "So I'm proud of us. We just came up a little bit short.”

11 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 1/11/13 at 4:42

The closeness of the score certainly does not say much for the Kentucky Wildcats.

By: 4gold on 1/11/13 at 5:26

Calapari has what? 5 of the top 10 drop outs in the country taking one class before going to basketball camp everyday and calling it a COLLEGE team. Stallings has one player worthy of walking onto a Div 1 floor and it comes down to a last shot?

Calapari is shoe salesman of the year but Stallings is coach of the year. . I fully expected a 40 point blow out. L is an L and there are many more to come for both of those teams. They stink the place up.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: TITAN1 on 1/11/13 at 6:05

Good comeback, Vandy. I have seen shot clock reviews before. Coach Stallings got his players back in the game. Proud of them.

By: jamiecarroll on 1/11/13 at 9:12

Where is Jughead this morning? Must've had a late night celebrating at PLAY.

By: HamBoneHamBone on 1/11/13 at 9:22

If Vandy had the backboard perimeter shot clock lighting system, that call would have been made easily.

By: HamBoneHamBone on 1/11/13 at 9:23

Would have been a $1,500 investment for both backboards.

By: joe41 on 1/11/13 at 10:47

Terrible game by both teams. Embarassing to watch. Vandy shooters looked like they had never seen a basketball goal. Both coaches were awful. Free throw shooting is abyssmal. I can shoot better than they can and I am in my 70's. I understand that Bob Knight threw up after the game..

By: mlmvette on 1/11/13 at 12:51

@4gold... those drop-outs you talk about posted a 3.061 GPA for the fall schedule... and will be making millions in the NBA soon. Get over it... you won't and they will... dumb or not dumb. Oh yeah... and Stallings couldn't coach his way out of paper bag... had one of the most talented, senior lead teams in the country last year and still couldn't get out of the second round??? You call that coaching?... that's why you sit behind a computer and post stupid comments all the time.
Props to Vandy... they played with tremendous heart.

By: Jughead on 1/11/13 at 2:31

I am in mourning, thanks for asking. My Cats almost lost to the worst basketball team in the nation. At least UK doesn't have Kevin Stallings as a coach--I would have to commit suicide if that were the case.

By: Jughead on 1/11/13 at 2:32


By: wallycheckers on 1/11/13 at 5:36

Jughead, you don't need to kill yourself. Just stop posting. Kentucky fans are so stupid.