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Vanderbilt Battles, but Can't Overcome Kentucky's Athleticism in 65-57 Loss

Hot shooting kept Vanderbilt alive, but the Commodores didn't have an answer for Kentucky's size and athleticism in a 57-65 road loss. Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis, Vandy's promising freshman wings, combined for 29 points and seven three-pointers in the losing effort.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky got out to a 7-0 lead and never let go, outgunning Vanderbilt in a 65-57 win Tuesday night. The Commodores scrapped hard to stay in this game but couldn't overcome the Wildcats' athletic defense, falling to the top-ranked team in the nation.

Kentucky looked like they were just a step ahead of the 'Dores all night. The loss squandered solid efforts from center Damian Jones and freshmen guards Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis, who combined for 40 of the team's 57 points. The rest of the Commodores struggled with UK's pressure defense. They shot just 28% from the floor.

The Wildcats got off to a fast start, but Vanderbilt battled back to prevent the 'Cats from getting too comfortable on their home court. The 'Dores cut Kentucky's lead to four points or fewer at multiple times throughout the second half, but UK always had an answer whether it was from three straight big plays at the rim from Marcus Lee or a barrage of icy jumpers from Aaron Harrison. Still, Vandy refused to be intimidated in one of the most hostile environments in college basketball.

The Commodores threw it back to Jermaine Beal's heyday to stay alive, utilizing transition three-pointers to keep the Wildcats off balance. LaChance and  Fisher-Davis each had huge counter-punching shots that kept the Rupp Arena crowd from leaving early, and cut the Vandy deficit to 51-54 with five minutes left to play. However, a turnover and a blocked shot on the ensuing two possessions dropped the 'Dores back into a seven-point rut. Another Fisher-Davis three extended Vandy's hopes, but the UK defense tightened up in time to hold VU without a field goal for a key two minute stretch that effectively clinched a Kentucky win.

LaChance led the Commodores with 16 points while Fisher-Davis added 13. Aaron Harrison scored 14 points of his own, all in the second half, to pace the Wildcats. The loss dropped Vanderbilt to 1-4 in league play and 11-7 overall. Kentucky remained undefeated and pushed their SEC mark to 5-0. The 'Dores will return to the court on Saturday when they host LSU at Memorial Gym.