By Tony Acree Kentucky won their first three SEC games by an average of just over 30 points per game. Against the Vanderbilt Commodores, the young Wildcats needed to scratch and claw to pull out a 6 point win in Nashville, 87-81. If Kentucky fans ever wondered what life would be like without Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox on the team they found out in the first half against Vanderbilt, as both guards sat the bench with two fouls each only three and and a half minutes into the first half. Kentucky sprinted to a 9-0 lead to start the game, but following the exit of Monk and Fox, the Commodores surged ahead 17-15, forcing Kentucky coach John Calipari to put Monk and Fox back into the game in spurts to keep the game close. Kentucky went into halftime with a 4 point edge.
The referees decided they loved their whistles and as a result, 56 free throws were attempted, leading to a brutally ugly game. With their star freshmen guards in foul trouble, sophomore Isiah Briscoe took over and scored a season high 23 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Fox scorched the Dores in the second half, finishing with 22 points. Malik Monk tossed in 18 and Bam Adebayo 14. Once again the Wildcats shot over 50 percent for the game.
Vanderbilt kept it close with clutch three point shooting. Matthe Fisher-Davis, Jeff Roberson and Riley Lachance all scored 19 points and Luke Kornet tallied 16. In his first game coaching against the Wildcats in Memorial Coliseum, Bryce Drew took the more talented Wildcats down to the wire before losing a close one.
Next up for Kentucky will be Auburn this coming Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.