The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt suffocated by Kentucky, 109-77

Kentucky scored 56 points off the bench in its 32-point defeat over Vanderbilt.
Jordan+Burks+dunking+on+Vanderbilt%2C+as+photographed+on+Feb.+6%2C+2024.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FNikita+Rohila%29
Nikita Rohila
Jordan Burks dunking on Vanderbilt, as photographed on Feb. 6, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Nikita Rohila)

Following their first SEC win of the season, the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-16, 1-8) were given a harsh reality check when they faced the Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 6-4) on Tuesday evening. The Wildcats steamrolled past the Commodores, 109-77 behind a 24-point performance from Antonio Reeves.

“We ran into a really hot team. A team that was a desperate team and lost two games in a row and came up here and shot lights out,” head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “This is one of those [games] where you just forget about it. We ran into a buzzsaw today.”

Kentucky won the tipoff and got off to a 5-0 start, thanks to a pull-up jumper from Reeves and a 3-ball from Justin Edwards. Ezra Manjon paused Kentucky’s first start with a driving layup a few possessions later. The Kentucky fans in Memorial Gymnasium erupted a few moments later though, as Reeves connected with Adou Thiero for an alley-oop slam to put the Wildcats up, 7-2.

Evan Taylor responded with a 3-ball to put Vanderbilt. Reeves then made a pull-up jumper to extend Kentucky’s lead to four points. Taylor would knock down another 3-pointer and Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham converted on two 3-balls soon after. At the first media timeout, Kentucky had a 15-8 lead over Vanderbilt.

“He was one of our bright spots on the offensive ends,” Stackhouse said of Taylor. “He came out and performed tonight…He’s gotten tougher. Evan has grown and understands how we’re going to play on both ends of the floor. I think his physicality and toughness as grown.”

Kentucky continued to dominate, specifically from behind the arc. By the time of the second media timeout, Vanderbilt was down 10 points on the Wildcats. Kentucky shot 71% from 3 at that point and the Commodores had no answers for their SEC foes.

The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas in the first half and silenced the Vanderbilt crowd for the second time of the night when Aaron Bradshaw slammed down an alley-oop to put Kentucky up 14 points with 8:33 remaining in the first half. Vanderbilt’s Paul Lewis punched right back with a pull-up jumper after pump-faking the Kentucky defense.

Kentucky went on an 8-0 run after that, which was highlighted by a 3-pointer from Reeves off of a Vanderbilt turnover. Kentucky now led Vanderbilt 42-22 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half. Vanderbilt was unable to inch much closer to Kentucky by halftime, ultimately going to its locker room down 54-38 at the break.

The Wildcats went 10-for-14 from 3 in the first half. Vanderbilt was unsuccessful from that range and went 13-for-34 from 3. Reeves scored 12 of his 16 first half points from beyond the arc.

Reeves scored the first bucket of the second half to put Kentucky up 18 points. Taylor then turned the ball over and Reeves took advantage of the turnover with a 3-ball on the ensuing possession. Taylor got revenge a few moments later, though, when he made a 3-pointer to put Vanderbilt down 61-44 with 17:28 remaining. Lawrence then made two free throws to put Vanderbilt down 14.

From there, Reeves, Bradshaw and Zvonimir Ivisic helped catapult a 9-2 run for Kentucky. With just over six minutes elapsed into the second half, the Wildcats had a commanding 70-48 lead and were in the driver’s seat.

Vanderbilt was unable to narrow its deficit by much until Paul Lewis made three free throws to put the Commodores down by 16 with just under nine minutes remaining. Lewis’s bright spot was dimmed a few moments later when Edwards came up with the steal and finished with a dunk on the other end. 

Kentucky enforced its will up until Jordan Burks gave the Wildcats their 100th point of the night, which came right before the final media timeout. The Wildcats stayed dominant and converted on their 10th dunk of the night when Burks scored after the timeout. The Wildcats ultimately outscored Vanderbilt 55-39 in the second half.

“We got a little bit of catching up to do,” Stackhouse said. “We can’t compare ourselves to a team that had 25 years of excellence in producing pro-talent.”

Vanderbilt will return to action with a road matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Feb. 10 at 12 p.m. CST.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Wilf
Andrew Wilf, Former Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
Nikita Rohila
Nikita Rohila, Senior Staff Photographer
Nikita Rohila ('25) is from a small town in Arkansas and is majoring in psychology and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Social Media Director. During her free time, she enjoys roaming around the city and getting cinematic-style shots for her photography account! You can reach her at [email protected].
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