Kentucky comes back to beat Vanderbilt on Senior Night, 73-67
03/01/2017 12:15 AM
It had a tournament feel to it. Kentucky was playing the game for its three seniors, who have contributed so much to this program. Vanderbilt, who is still fighting to get in the NCAA tournament, knew how much a win over No. 9 Kentucky could help their chances.
And despite trailing by as much as 19 points in the first half and 13 points in the second half, Kentucky never gave up, beating Vanderbilt 73-67.
The Wildcats faced an early deficit, trailing Vanderbilt 25-6 midway through the first half and Rupp Arena was lifeless. Kentucky was able to claw back into the game, going into the half down 30-24.
The start of the second half was similar to that of the first half. Vanderbilt came out knocking down shots and took a 47-34 lead with 13:51 to go in the game.
By the 7:35 mark Kentucky was only down 54-52 and all momentum seemed to be shifting towards the Wildcats. Rupp Arena had energy, as the crowd was hoping to see the seniors win their last game at home.
Derek Willis hit a big three-pointer with 4:47 left to give Kentucky its first lead of the game. From there, Malik Monk hit two clutch jumpers as the Wildcats ended Vanderbilt’s four game winning streak.
Kentucky’s seniors played great basketball tonight. Derek Willis only had three points, but he led the team with eight rebounds. He also protected the rim, blocking three shots in the game. Dominique Hawkins locked down the perimeter and yet again showed why he is Kentucky’s best on-ball defender. Mychal Mulder had a big three early in the game, followed by a strong dunk on the baseline that ignited the Rupp Arena crowd.
This is Kentucky’s biggest comeback in the John Calipari era and the biggest overall comeback since the 1994 season, when UK trailed Florida by 19 points in the first half.
Kentucky improves to 25-5 (15-2) on the season. They close out the regular season on Saturday against Texas A&M at College Station. Tipoff is set for noon ET.
Senior Night Ceremony: