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Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky
SEC Tournament
63 - 81
March 14, 2003
New Orleans, La.

 

Final Box Score

Box Score

Updated Cumulative Stats

Story
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Down by nine points, Kentucky had no reason to be concerned.

The No. 2 Wildcats simply put together one of their patented runs, cruising to an 81-63 victory over Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday night.

One night after top-ranked Arizona was upset in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, the next team in line avoided a similar fate with plenty of room to spare.

Kentucky (27-3) extended its winning streak to 21 games after becoming just the second SEC team in 47 years to go through the league schedule with a perfect record (16-0). The Wildcats advanced to meet either Tennessee or Auburn in Saturday's semifinals.

Keith Bogans scored 16 points, leading four players in double figures. Seven others scored as Kentucky cleared its bench and still shot 53 percent from the field.

This one mirrored the Wildcats' two victories over Vanderbilt (11-18) during the regular season.

On Jan. 14, Kentucky trailed by eight at the half but outscored the Commodores 46-16 over the final 20 minutes for a 74-52 victory. Last week, the Wildcats celebrated Senior Night with a 106-44 romp at Rupp Arena.

Shrugging off the last three halves, Vanderbilt started strong this time. The Big Blue faithful squirmed nervously when Brian Thornton dunked to give the Commodores a 17-8 lead less than eight minutes into the game.

Not to worry. The Wildcats shifted gears and quickly reeled off nine straight points to tie it up. Kentucky finally took its first lead, 28-26, when Jules Camara stole the ball near halfcourt and cruised in for a dunk with 3:58 remaining.

Camara's basket was part of a 14-2 run that closed the half for the Wildcats, who led 36-28 at the break. And they weren't done, either.

Kentucky scored 12 of the first 14 points in the second half, sandwiching a 26-4 spurt around that locker room stopover. Coach Tubby Smith spent most of the night in his seat, not finding any reason to stomp his foot.

Mario Moore scored 18 points to pace Vandy, which needed a late spurt just to reach 35 percent shooting (21-of-60).

Vandy's frustration was epitomized by the final play of the half. Corey Smith was driving for an uncontested layup but lost track of the clock, the buzzer going off before he could release the ball.

Maybe he was better off holding on. The Commodores missed 10 of 11 shots to end the first half, seven of eight to start the second.

Kentucky is seeking its 24th SEC tournament title, already holding more than the other 11 schools combined. By beating Vandy, the Wildcats took care of one of the few blemishes on the tourney blotter.

The Commodores were the only team that didn't have a losing record to Kentucky, splitting six previous meetings. Now, they've joined the rest.

Vanderbilt was coming off an 82-69 upset of Alabama in the opening round. The Commodores snapped a nine-game losing streak and may have knocked the Crimson Tide, a former No. 1, out of the NCAA tournament.

Against Kentucky, which might be the next No. 1, Vanderbilt never had a chance to start a winning streak.


 









 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)