A 30-point lead was stunning.
A 40-point lead was almost surreal.
It was that kind of night at Memorial Gym on Tuesday, as 24th-ranked Vanderbilt demolished Kentucky 93-52 before 14,325 fans.
It was over almost before it started. The Commodores sprinted to a 31-point lead late in the first half and rolled to their largest margin of victory ever over the Wildcats.
It was also the worst defeat Kentucky has ever suffered in a Southeastern Conference game and its most lopsided defeat since 1989.
Could Vanderbilt play any better?
“You don’t dream like that,” VU coach Kevin Stallings said. “Sometimes it just happens when you least expect it.”
As the lead swelled, players from both teams found themselves staring at the scoreboard in astonishment.
“To have them to stomp us into the ground like that, it’s horrible,” Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson said. “They played like men and we played like boys.”
Defense set the tone early for Vanderbilt, which harried Kentucky into missing eight of its first 10 shots. UK went 11:23 without scoring a basket in the first half.
UK’s primary scoring threat, freshman forward Patterson, was scoreless and attempted only one shot in the first half.
“We were as good defensively as I’ve ever seen this team play,” Stallings said.
VU was equally efficient on offense, sinking eight of its first 10 shots and ripping off a 20-2 run to stretch a 17-6 lead to 37-6.
Before halftime, Kentucky was finished.
“We obviously caught Kentucky on a night when they were off,” Stallings said. “It was our night. It wasn’t theirs. Sometimes in this league, things can snowball on you.”
Shan Foster led the Commodores (21-4 overall, 6-4 in Southeastern Conference play) with 20 points, A.J. Ogilvy scored 19 and Ross Neltner added 15.
Ramel Bradley led Kentucky (12-10, 6-3) with 21 points.
Neltner gave Vanderbilt an early lift, making his first four shots, including a 3-pointer, to push the lead to 17-6.
Kentucky’s A.J. Stewart scored a field goal with 14:42 left in the first half, but the Wildcats went dry and didn’t get another bucket until Joe Crawford scored with 2:19 left in the first half.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s crisp offensive execution and ball movement lead to seven early layups, forcing frustrated UK coach Billy Gillispie into two timeouts.
The Commodores made 15 of 26 shots (57.7 percent) in the first half and committed only one turnover. The Wildcats, meanwhile, shot 20 percent and coughed up 12 turnovers.
Any hope Kentucky had of rallying in the second half was vanquished when Vanderbilt used a 10-0 run to extend a 45-14 lead to 55-14.
“We really wanted to come out in the first four minutes [of the second half] and break their spirits, and I think we did that,” Neltner said.
The Commdodores eventually led by 43 points and emptied their bench, as walk-ons Jamie Graham and Joe Duffy broke into the scoring column.
Such carefree play at the expense of Kentucky, the lynchpin program of the SEC, was shocking.
“That was a good whipping,” Gillispie said. “Congratulations to Vanderbilt. They played great. We didn't have any answer for anything they did. Just a severe whipping from start to finish.”