By LARRY VAUGHT
Six minutes into the game in Rupp Arena earlier this month, Vanderbilt had 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting and held a 16-4 lead over Kentucky before eventually falling to the Cats.
Tuesday night in Nashville, Vanderbilt got to 16 points — with just over 18 minutes left in THE GAME. It took Vanderbilt 22 minutes to get as many points as it had in six minutes at Rupp.
By then, Kentucky had a 45-15 halftime lead and truly coasted to an 87-52 win over the Commodores.
Sophomore PJ Washington seems intent on making coach John Calipari look like a prophet by saying he can be as good as any player the nation. He had a double-double at halftime and finished with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting (3-for-3 from 3-point range), 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists in 26 minutes. It was his third straight 20-point game.
“PJ is playing so well. I have waited a year and a half for him to play this way. I am not going to let him revert,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
Tyler Herro overcome a sluggish offensive start to add 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting along with three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Keldon Johnson scored 11 points in the second half when he made three 3-pointers after not scoring in the first half.
And Kentucky finally got a potential breakout game from sophomore Nick Richards. He had 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and 6-for-10 at the foul line along with four blocks in 15 minutes after blocking five shots in 10 minutes against Kansas. His only issue was that he had just one rebound just like he did against Kansas.
“We expect him to make shots. He just came in and did his job,” Washington said.
Kentucky had a 17-2 run late in the first half when its defense just dominated the Commodores. Kentucky had 11 assists on 17 goals in the first half and was 5-for-10 from 3-point range with just one turnover.
The Cats had 16 points off 14 Vanderbilt turnovers and limited Vandy to 5-for-20 shooting from the field and 2-for-11 from 3-point range.
“We defended like crazy,” Calipari said. “We rebounded and were willing passers.”
Kentucky built its largest halftime lead in a SEC road game since Jan. 16, 1996, when it led by 44 points at LSU. Of course, that UK team won a national title.
“Being up 30 it is hard to play,” Calipari said. “We can’t afford to revert back. I was harder on them in the second half than I was in the first half.”