WATCH: Kentucky withstands scare from Vanderbilt with layup in final seconds of OT
Kentucky snatched an 83-81 victory from the jaws of defeat on Tuesday night in a down-to-the-wire overtime thriller it frankly had no business winning.
The 21st-ranked Wildcats trailed by as many as 14 points to the visiting Commodores in the second half before they made an impressive run, led by freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, to close the gap. Still yet, the final surge didn’t appear to be enough.
With six seconds left in regulation, Vandy hit a free throw to extend its lead to 71-69. And after UK inbounded and nearly turned the ball over, the Cats went into full-on scramble mode … and Vanderbilt bailed them out by fouling and sending Gilgeous-Alexander to the line with two seconds left.
The freshman knocked down a pair of free throws that would send the game to OT.
Gilgeous-Alexander had only six points at the half, but finished with a necessary career-high 30-point outburst that paced the Wildcats. Once in OT, Kevin Knox, who has emerged as a trusty scorer for the surging Cats, was equally huge. He finished with 18 points and eight rebounds — six of his points came in the final five minutes to help avoid a bad home loss.
Although it was tied at 81 in the final seconds of OT, Kentucky freshman Quade Green sliced and diced his way straight to the hoop for a layup, which turned out to be the clincher.
Call it a Kentucky curse or just your run-of-the mill bad luck, but this was more about Vandy chucking up the game than Kentucky winning. The Commodores had opportunities to distance themselves time and again, but ill-advised 3s down the stretch, untimely turnovers, and — in the final possession — bad defense, ultimately cost them the game.
The loss moves Vanderbilt (8-14) to 2-39 all-time at Rupp Arena and into sole possession of last place in the SEC with a 2-7 league record.