Kentucky survived a second half comeback again to defeat Vanderbilt 80-78. Despite another ending that included questionable calls and misfortunes, the Cats were able to hang on and win their second-straight game.
UK went into halftime ahead 42-30 after dominating the Commodores for the first 20 minutes. They had 11 assists on 14 made field goals, tying their average for the season, and forced 10 Vandy turnovers.
The Commodores then turned the tables in the second half, outscoring UK 14-4 to in the first few minutes to tie the game 46-46. It remained relatively close until the end, with UK maintaining the lead for 38:56 of game time as they hit 24/25 free throws down the stretch and claimed victory.
They were also helped by a big night from Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin. The forward had a career-high 16 points off the bench on 5/9 shooting from the floor, including a big three-pointer to put the Cats up 67-60 with 3:57 to go. He also spent plenty of energy defensively, as his effort is often a highlight for this team.
“I was so happy…they were ecstatic for him in that locker room,” UK Head Coach John Calipari said after the game.
Speaking of highlights, freshman phenom Isaiah Jackson added to his string of dominant performances, as he scored 15 points on 5/5 shooting from the floor and 5/6 from the free throw line along with grabbing nine rebounds. He fouled out with around five minutes to go in the game, but he has proven his lottery pick status in the last few weeks.
“Isaiah’s playing so good right now, and rebounding every ball, he’s staying in the game,” Calipari said.
Jackson may have been outplayed to an extent by Vanderbilt forward Dylan Disu. He put up 29 points on 10/20 shooting from the floor and added 16 rebounds to give him his fourth career double-double against the Cats. Those explosive numbers were not enough to overcome UK, however, and they now sit with a 7-13 overall record (6-7 in the SEC) after completing another season sweep of the Commodores.