After back-to-back slow starts against Alabama and Texas A&M over the last week, Kentucky players said after their most recent outing that they knew it was something they had to turn around, and turn around quickly.
Just minutes into their matchup with Vanderbilt this evening, however, Kentucky found themselves down 16-4, needing yet another comeback effort to win their second SEC game of the season.
They crawled back, but the Wildcats still found themselves down 30-28 at halftime, their lowest point total of the season at the break. And the offense wouldn’t look much better in the second half.
After intermission, Kentucky picked up their intensity and found a way to slowly spread the lead, pushing it to 11 with 5:09 remaining in the game.
Vanderbilt gave a slight resistance, but the Wildcats were able to hold them off to pull off the 56-47 victory to move to 12-3 on the season and 2-1 in conference play.
On offense, it was easily Kentucky’s ugliest game of the season, finishing with 15 fewer points than the team’s lowest scoring output of the season (71 against Southern Illinois and Louisville). As a team, they finished shooting 50 percent from the field (just 44 shots on the night), 25 percent from three (4-16), and 57.1 percent from the free throw line.
Defensively however, Kentucky held Vanderbilt to just 47 points, the Wildcats’ second-lowest allowed total of the season (44 against Monmouth). The Commodores shot just 36 percent from the field, 28 percent from three, and 50 percent from the free throw line.
Ashton Hagans finished with 15 points on 7-9 shooting, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals, proving yet again to be Kentucky’s most impactful player on the roster at this point in the season. He fell hard on a drive late in the second half and appeared to hurt his back, but he was back in a few possessions later looking okay
Keldon Johnson also added 15 points on an efficient 6-8 shooting, along with one rebound and one assist.
Immanuel Quickley added a career-high 12 points on 4-9 shooting, with three of those makes coming from beyond the arc.
Outside of those three, Kentucky got little to nothing on the offensive end of the floor from the rest of the Wildcats. Reid Travis, Tyler Herro, and PJ Washington combined for just 12 points on a putrid 4-13 shooting. Herro and Travis also combined for five turnovers.
Check out the entire boxscore: