A furious rally came up short.
Vanderbilt pulled within two with less than four minutes left but never pulled ahead in a 74-70 loss to Kentucky on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.
The Commodores trailed by 13 with 9:03 remaining before rattling off a 14-3 run. Kedren Johnson drove the lane for a layup to cut the lead to 61-59 with 3:53 left.
Kentucky senior Julius Mays then used a shot fake to get Kyle Fuller off his feet and made a big 3-pointer.
Fuller later made a 3-pointer of his own from the corner that cut the deficit to 68-65 with 1:10 left. But on the next possession Archie Goodwin got open near the basket and Josh Henderson fouled him on an attempted block. Goodwin made both free throws and the Wildcats held off Vanderbilt in the final minute.
The Commodores (10-15, 4-9) went scoreless for more than five minutes early in the first half and paid for it.
Kentucky turned a one-point lead into a 14-point advantage. Willie Cauley-Stein’s dunk with 10:39 left in the half put the Wildcats ahead 23-9 and the Commodores faced an uphill battle the rest of the way.
Johnson scored 17 points for Vanderbilt, which lost at Rupp for the fifth straight year. Rod Odom added 16 and made a career-high tying four 3-pointers — all in the first half — for the second straight game. Fuller had 14 points and Henderson tied a career-high with 13.
Cauley-Stein led Kentucky (18-8, 9-4) with 20 points. The 7-foot freshman made eight of 10 shots and had seven rebounds. Goodwin had 16 points and Harrow scored 12.
Things got chippy with 3:01 left. After Harrow fouled and knocked Henderson to the ground, he appeared to stand over Henderson and deny Sheldon Jeter a chance to help his teammate up. Johnson, among others, took exception and quickly approached Harrow.
As the players were separated, both guard Kevin Bright and walk-on Carter Josephs left the bench and walked onto the floor. That resulted in an automatic ejection for both players. Josephs did not play in the game. But Bright, the team’s leading rebounder, had five points, six rebounds and four fouls.
Vanderbilt stays on the road to play at Mississippi State on Saturday (12:30 p.m., SEC Network).