Wildcats reach century mark in Nashville, blast Commodores

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Kentucky didn’t have its full roster intact at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night, but it didn’t matter.

The Wildcats (16-6, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from Saturday’s 103-92 loss to No. 6 Tennessee and ended a rare two-game losing streak with a dominating 109-77 win over the Commodores. It marked the first time since 1996 Kentucky reached the century mark at Memorial Gym.

“How many teams do this and play like this against us. Play out of their minds? It nice that we played out of our minds one time,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Vanderbilt (6-16, 1-8) defeated Kentucky in two of three games last season with a stunner in the regular season final and ousted the Wildcats from the SEC tournament, but couldn’t come close Tuesday.

Coming off back-to-back home losses to the Volunteers and Florida last week, No. 10 Kentucky led from start to finish in its easy win over struggling Vandy, which has lost eight of its first nine conference games.

Kentucky was without starters D.J. Wagner (ankle) and Tre Mitchell (back). Wagner missed his third straight game with a high ankle sprain, while Mitchell sat out for the first time this season with a nagging injury.

The Wildcats had no trouble putting the Commodores away with a big outing in the opening half.

Kentucky connected on 10 3-pointers in the first half and got a big spark from SEC Freshman of the Week Rob Dillingham. Coming off a career-high 35-point performance, Dillingham scored 13 points in the opening half. Dillingham drained four shots from long range and finished with 20 points.

Dillingham has scored at least 20 points in Kentucky’s last three games. Dillingham said the Wildcats wanted to produce a better showing, especially on the defensive end.

“We wanted to play like we had nothing to lose,” Dillingham said. “We came in locked in (on defense) as a team. … Once we play like we have nothing to lose, we’ll be good.”

Leading scorer Antonio Reeves led all scorers with 24 points. Reeves knocked down six 3-pointers and provided a steady scoring presence for the Wildcats. Kentucky made 15 of 26 3-pointers and hit all 12 of its free throws.

Led by Reeves and Dillingham, who also had nine assists, six players finished in double figures. For the first time this season, Justin Edwards tallied double figures against an SEC opponent and finished with a career-high 17 points.

Jordan Burks also tallied a career-high performance with 13 points, followed by Aaron Bradshaw with 12 points and seven rebounds. Zvonimir Ivisic added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Overall, Kentucky got 56 points from its bench and 26 second-chance points.