It was not thing one that hindered Vanderbilt’s efforts against the No. 1 team in the country. It was two.
The Commodores (16-4, 4-1 in the SEC), ranked No. 21, could not match Kentucky’s 3-point shooting or rebounding and lost 85-72 Saturday at Rupp Arena. The defeat snapped their 10-game win streak and cost them an opportunity to go up at least two games in the loss column over every other team in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.
“Kentucky came out ready to play,” guard Jermaine Beal said. “They beat us badly on the boards, and they made their shots. I give props to Kentucky for a good game. They are a good team.”
Beal made four of eight 3-point shots and had a team-high 19 points for Vanderbilt. Four others scored in double figures, led by A.J. Ogilvy’s 12, but the other than Beal the rest of the Commodores were 1-for-7 on 3-pointers.
VU’s only lead of the afternoon was at 3-2 on Beal’s first 3-pointer, 45 seconds after the opening tip. It trailed by as many as 19 in the first half and got no closer than 11 throughout the final 20 minutes.
“Our team is good, but (Saturday) we just didn't play our best basketball unfortunately,” Ogilvy said. “We had a rough start and then Kentucky went on a run and we just were not able to close that gap.”
Kentucky (20-1, 5-1) made 12 of 23 3-point shots and nearly doubled Vanderbilt’s rebound total (41-22).
Four different players made more than one of the long-range shots, including 6-foot-9 forward Patrick Patterson, who was 3-for-4, as half of UK’s total field goals were 3-pointers.
“Because of the nature of how they play, they are going to come up with perimeter shots,” VU coach Kevin Stallings said. “They made shots (Saturday) that they haven't been making, or at as high a rate as they did (Saturday) afternoon. On the backboards, there were times we really fought and still lost. There were times where we probably didn't fight like we needed to fight.
The Wildcats had 18 offensive rebounds, which they converted into 20 second-half points as compared to three and two, respectively, for the Commodores.
Freshman DeMarcus Cousins had game-highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Darnell Dodson added 16 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes.
“We outrebounded a good rebounding team by 18 rebounds, we hold them to three offensive rebounds,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “…We beat a good team.”