- Saturday, January 27 2001 -
Vanderbilt - 75 (Head Coach: Kevin Stallings) - [Unranked]
|Scott Hundley (*)||10||0||2||0||1||4||4||1||0||1||3||0||0||0||3||4|
Kentucky - 86 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||22||1||5||1||2||0||0||2||2||4||1||3||0||0||3||3|
Halftime Score: Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 27
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Alabama 60 - 70|||||Georgia 85 - 70|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
UK tops Vandy 86-75
LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Kentucky's Saul Smith scored a career-high 18 points and Marquis Estill matched his best scoring output with 19 as the Wildcats defeated Vanderbilt 86-75 on Saturday at Rupp Arena.
Smith scored 16 of his points in the second half to help Kentucky hold off a fierce rally by Vanderbilt. The Commodores trailed by 20 early in the second half before using a 19-2 run to get back into the game. But Smith scored eight points down the stretch, including a 3-pointer and a pair of driving baskets, to lift the Cats to victory.
Kentucky (11-7, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) pushed its all-time record to 24-0 against the Commodores in Rupp Arena. Vanderbilt dropped to 13-6 overall and 3-4 in league play.
Smith's previous career high was 17 points on two occasions -- earlier this season against Eastern Kentucky and at Ole Miss in 1999. He also added three assists and three steals to his stat line. Estill, who came off the bench to spark the Cats by hitting five of seven from the field and nine of 11 at the line, matched the career high he established on Dec. 2 at North Carolina.
The Commodores opened the game looking like they may be primed for an upset. Chuck Moore and Matt Freije came out with the hot hand, combining for 10 points as Vandy raced to a 16-8 lead.
Not liking what he was seeing, Kentucky coach Tubby Smith responded by putting five substitutes on the floor at the 12:00 mark. The new lineup -- guards Cliff Hawkins and J.P. Blevins, forwards Erik Daniels and Estill, and center Marvin Stone -- responded with a 22-3 run that, at the time, seemed to put the Dores away.
"I liked our second unit. That group of guys came in and really stepped it up," Smith said. "They showed that, 'Hey coach, when you need us, we're ready to play. Don't hesitate to put us in there.' And that's what it's about. We can accomplish a lot more if no one cares who gets the credit. That's the most important thing."
Estill scored nine points in the run and Daniels added six -- all of them off the offensive glass -- to give Kentucky a 30-19 lead with 4:12 left in the first half.
Vanderbilt, however, showed signs that it would not go quietly, using a modest 7-2 run to close the half and pull within 34-27 on Brendan Plavich's 3-pointer.
The Cats opened the second half with a 15-2 run, including seven points by Keith Bogans and a pair of 3-pointers by Smith, to stretch its lead to 49-29 at the 15:52 mark.
But back came the Dores on the strength of their dangerous 3-point shooting, which was magnified by Kentucky's continued struggles to defend the perimeter. In a five-minute stretch, Vandy drained five treys, including a four-point play by Freije. The Dores also hit 10 of 10 free throws in the run to pull within 58-56 at the 9:05 mark.
"I was a little bit uncomfortable there when they came back from down 20, but Vanderbilt's a good team," Smith said. "It showed that we could win a game after having the lead (and letting it slip away) in the second half. That's something we've had problems with all year long, so that was a positive thing coming out of it."
Unlike its recent second-half meltdowns, this time Kentucky had an answer.
Tayshaun Prince, Gerald Fitch and Smith each scored three points in an 11-3 run that saw the Cats finally put the game way. Vanderbilt could get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Kentucky shot 46 percent (29 of 62) from the field and held a 40-28 rebounding advantage. The Cats had been outrebounded in six of their last seven games. UK also forced 23 turnovers, several of them coming in the key first-half run that erased Vandy's early lead.
In addition to Estill and Smith, the Cats also got double figures from Prince (15) and Bogans (13).
Freije scored a game-high 21 to pace the Dores, who hit 11 3-pointers on the night, nine in the second half.
"We've had our trouble guarding the 3s," Smith said. "I guess teams who are scouting us must be seeing something in our defense that allows people to get wide-open 3s.... We did a very poor job in the second half of this game defensively."