Now they’re even.
The first time Vanderbilt and Kentucky faced one another this season, the Commodores were without injured center A.J. Ogilvy and were defeated. For the rematch Tuesday at Memorial Gymnasium, the Wildcats were the ones without their big man, Patrick Patterson, who was held out with an ankle problem.
Vanderbilt took advantage of the situation in several ways, particularly the number of times it got to the foul line and a with decisive edge on the offensive glass.
The Commodores set season-highs for free throws made (32) and attempted (40) and had more than twice as many second-chance points as UK as they evened the season series with a 77-64 victory before a sellout crowd of 14,366 and an ESPN audience.
“Obviously one of the best players in the league didn’t play in this game – we acknowledge that,” VU coach Kevin Stallings said. “We got to the foul line and we got to the offensive boards. … That’s kind of the name of the game when you’re playing a team as good as they are.”
Jermaine Beal made all 10 free throws he attempted, A.J. Ogilvy made seven of nine and Jeffery Taylor and Lance Goulborne each made six from the foul line. As a team, VU attempted only three fewer field goals than foul shots.
Ogilvy and Goulbourne each had a team-high 17 points, and Beal added 15.
By comparison, Kentucky, which had two players foul out and two others finish with four fouls, took 52 shots from the field and got to the foul line just 23 times.
“They deserved (their free throws),” UK coach Billy Gillispie said. “They were very aggressive. They played well as a team. They moved around, and they deserved to win.”
The Wildcats did get a game-high 26 points from the SEC’s leading scorer, Jodie Meeks. However, Vanderbilt’s man-to-man defense and an occasional diamond-and-one limited him to six field goals on 21 attempts.
In keeping with the theme of the night, Meeks was 10-for-10 from the foul line. A.J. Stewart (11 points) was the only other UK player in double figures.
“It was tough,” Meeks said. “(Patterson) is a big part of our offense. When he’s not out there, we face adversity. … We gave away some rebounds but its still not an excuse. We have to box out better and rebound better.”
Sophomore Josh Harrelson (6-foot-10, 265 pounds) started in place of Patterson but played just seven minutes. Instead, UK often relied on a lineup that consisted of four perimeter players.
It worked until Vanderbilt broke a halftime tie with the first nine points of the second half. The Commodores led the rest of the way, and when Kentucky did close to within four, they responded with a 15-3 run.
“I think we established ourselves in the second half when we came out and made that run,” Beal said.
Even in the first 20 minutes, though, the Commodores laid the groundwork for what was to come. Three of their first five field goals came on putbacks, and half of their first-half points came on free throws.
“We always want to pound the ball inside,” Stallings said. “Our number of trips to the line was obviously a big key. We were able to keep the game inside where we needed it, and that really helped us.”
So did not having to face Patterson when they got in there.
BRIEFLY: Goulborne’s 17 points were a career-high – six more than his previous best. He scored eight during the 15-3 second-half run when VU stretched a four-point lead (45-41) to 16 points (60-44). “I don’t even remember when that (eight points) happened,” Goulbourne said. “Sometimes that just happens. … I just felt comfortable.” … Beal had three assists, which put him over 300 for his career. He now has 301and trails Mario Moore by 30 for 10th all-time. … The Commodores have had exactly 37 rebounds in each of the last three games. … Vanderbilt’s football team was recognized for its Music City Bowl victory in a halftime ceremony. Coach Bobby Johnson thanked the students and fans for their support, which he said was “the best since we’ve been here.”