LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson each scored 15 points and combined to rally No. 18 Kentucky from another slow start in a 56-47 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Perimeter shooting propelled the Commodores to a 16-5 lead and 30-28 edge at the break. Johnson and Hagans then combined to score the first seven points of the second half for the Wildcats’ first lead at 35-30. Kentucky (12-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) steadily pulled away for its second consecutive win despite a season low in points.
Kentucky shot 53 percent after halftime and 50 percent overall, while holding Vanderbilt to just 6 of 25 (24 percent) in the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats also outrebounded the Commodores 38-21, with Reid Travis’ 12 boards leading the way. Immanuel Quickley added 12 points for the Wildcats.
Aaron Nesmith had 11 points, while Saben Lee and Joe Toye added nine apiece for Vanderbilt (9-6, 0-3), which shot below 40 percent for the second consecutive game.
Kentucky should move up a few spots in what figures to be a reshuffled Top 25.
Vanderbilt: Everything started well enough for the Commodores, who started 5 of 11 from long range and seemed to thwart every Kentucky attempt to go ahead in the first half. Poor shooting was only part of their second-half woes, as they struggled to slow Kentucky on offense and couldn’t stop the `Cats on the glass.
Kentucky: Credit the Wildcats for again shaking off a sluggish beginning to finish strong. They owned just about every statistic, but overpowered the Commodores on the board and in the paint (32-16). But it involved another wakeup call, a troubling trend they must avoid the deeper they get into their conference schedule.
Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina on Wednesday night, looking to avenge last year’s 71-60 loss.
Kentucky visits Georgia on Tuesday night.