- Tuesday, January 27 1998 -
Kentucky - 63 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Vanderbilt - 61 (Head Coach: Jan Van Breda Kolff) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 27, Vanderbilt 25
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Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 7 No. 22. (All Rights Reserved)
The Shot Heard Round the World:
Kentucky managed to squeeze past Vanderbilt 63-61 in Nashville, thanks to a last 0.1 second scoop attempt by Nazr Mohammed (who even admitted that he wasn't taking a shot). ESPN televised the game, and Kentucky was ranked #7 by AP in this contest.
Despite a lob layup by Mohammed to score the game's 1st pts, DiSpaltro and Bates combined on shots and FTs to give Vanderbilt an early 6-2 lead. Jeff Sheppard missed a couple of 3s early, and Kentucky exhibited bad ballhandling, but Padgett finally had a dunk putback and Edwards added a layup to tie the game at 6-6. UK even went up 8-6 on a Turner assist to Magloire for a dunk, but Bates hit a high archer, Maddux made a layup, and Langhi banked in a 3 to go up 13-8 at the initial TV timeout. The Cats then turned the ball over as Mills seemed unaware that the shot clock was about to expire. The Cats missed 3 3-point attempts during a stretch (Vandy missed their only 3 try then), before Sheppard finally drove the lane, making a FG, and was fouled. He missed the FT afterwards, but when Magloire had a dunk soon after, the Cats trailed only 13-12 to the Commodores. Vandy surged ahead with a DiSpaltro FT, a Maddux 3 off a missed FT rebound, and suddenly VU was up 17-12. Sheppard made a layup, then Ford hit a 3 to make it 20-14 Vanderbilt, their longest lead of the night. Sheppard responded with a 3, and it was 20-17 VU at the next TV timeout. By this pt the Cats were only 1-7 from 3 pt range, with Sheppard guilty of most of the misses. When play resumed, Padgett absorbed a shot to the nose from LaPointe's elbow (it appeared accidental), and LaPointe made a FT shot. Evans hit Magloire for a layup with around 3.5 minutes left in the half. Evans then missed an incredibly open 10 footer, but Sheppard managed a 3 to make it 22-21 UK. A pair of DiSpaltro FT tosses made it 23-22 VU, but then Sheppard hit a 3 (this after Vanderbilt was called for only its 2nd foul of the half, with around a minute left!) to make it 25-23 Kentucky. DiSpaltro made 2 more FTs (it seemed he could pick up a foul almost whenever he wanted to) to tie the game at 25-25, then Magloire hit a difficult turnaround high arching shot to give the Cats their 27-25 halftime lead. During ESPN's halftime show, Digger Phelps made his almost obligatory derogatory remarks about Kentucky's play, because they were leading unranked Vandy on the road by "only" 2 pts. Vanderbilt's position trailing by 2 was quite lucky, considering they had shot a mere 28.0% from the floor (7-25) in the 1st half.
It remained close early in the 2nd half, as Prater made a layup, Edwards drove for a basket, Maddux hit a long 2, Langhi made a hook, and Edwards hit 1 FT to make it 31-30 Vanderbilt. Mohammed got a dunk to give the Cats a 32-31 edge at the next TV timeout. Sheppard finally realized he was accomplishing nothing from 3 pt range, so he drove inside, made a basket, and was fouled, completing the old-fashioned 3 pt play and giving the Cats a 34-31 lead. Prater hit a 3 just before the shot clock expired, but Padgett answered with a 3. Then Maddux hit a 3, and Sheppard missed his 3 to break the string. Langhi had a putback basket, and VU led 39-37. Magloire was fouled and made a FT following a very weird shot - it appeared that he did not want to take it, but his play made it 40-39 UK. LaPointe made a layup, and Padgett had an old-fashioned 3 to give the Cats a 43-41 lead at the next TV timeout. By this time, Vanderbilt front court players had picked up enough fouls to be troublesome, and all their players appeared a bit winded. Evans hit 2 FTs, Bates made an inside shot, Evans missed 2 FT tosses but DiSpaltro didn't, and it was 45-45. Jeff Sheppard finally found his shooting form and nailed a 3, and Langhi made a driving layup. It was 48-47 Kentucky at the next TV timeout. Neither team could pull away, exchanging shots and FTs until it was 52-52. Sheppard hit a a FG but missed his FT, DiSpaltro drove for a FG, Evans made an old-fashioned 3, Maddux hit an 18 footer, and Padgett tipped in a Sheppard miss to make the score 59-56 Kentucky with 1.5 minutes remaining. Maddux missed a very long 3 (shot from perhaps 28 ft out), the Cats got the rebound, and Turner appeared to slightly twist his ankle (he was replaced). Evans was fouled but missed both charity tosses, then Prater was fouled and he made his 2. With 36 seconds left in regulation, Vanderbilt called a timeout. Under heavy VU pressure, Scott Padgett had the ball under the Vandy basket, but he threw a length of the court pass which Cameron Mills could not catch (granted, it appeared that Cameron stopped running, but even at full speed he had no chance to catch this bad pass). Vanderbilt had the ball with around 30 seconds left. Instead of burning time (with the shot clock off), Maddux took an ill-advised shot in the lane, perhaps hoping to be fouled, but the Cats played nothing but good defense, and got the ball as Turner was fouled. He hit both shots to make it 61-58 Cats with 13 seconds left. Somehow Maddux got around a double screen, received the ball while a trailing Sheppard couldn't catch up, and launched a quick 3 which hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Kentucky had the ball out of bounds with 4.4 seconds left and the score tied. Jeff Sheppard received the ball inbounds, and couldn't find Turner (his intended target), so he passed to Mohammed who was over 20 ft from the basket, with only about 1.5 seconds left. Mohammed dribbled in, and lobbed the ball towards the goal (it could hardly be called a shot by any stretch of the imagination) as he saw the shot clock wind down. Replays of the videotape showed the ball leaving his hand with around 0.1 seconds left, and somehow his shot (which hit very high on the glass) dropped through. Gerald Boudreaux signaled the shot good, and the Cats had pulled out a miraculous finish by winning 63-61.
This was Vandy's 1st home loss of the season. It also marked the 1st game of the season in which Kentucky was outrebounded (by a margin of 37-32. The Commodores were outrebounded a whopping 57-18 in the game played in Rupp Arena, and the team no doubt wanted to avenge this embarrassment).
Mohammed's 16 minutes of playing time was his lowest since the GaTech game at Rupp Arena in December (when he played only 13 minutes). Wayne Turner was accidentally hit near the eye by a ball during warmup, and he was seen applying ice to the wound, but it appeared not to be serious. UK's 63 pts were its lowest scoring total so far this season.
Nazr Mohammed dribbles in front of Vanderbilt's Greg LaPointe