LEXINGTON, Ky. — Malik Monk hopped off the bench to score 20 of his 27 points in the second half, including 10 in the final 3:40, and No. 9 Kentucky rallied to hold off Vanderbilt 73-67 on Tuesday night for a share of the Southeastern Conference regular season title.
Monk entered the game on the back of a 33 point performance in the Florida Gators in a 76-66 win on Saturday.
Bam Adebayo added 16 points and six rebounds and De’Aaron Fox, who also started on the bench, finished with 13 points for the Wildcats (25-5, 15-2 SEC), who rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half.
“”f you’re going to win in March, that’s what you have to play like, 40 minutes. What you saw in the second half,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
“That’s who you’ve got to be, or you’re not winning.”
The experienced coach noted: “That’s how you’ve got to play basketball in March. You’ve got to fight and stick together. You can’t fight and then everybody go do their own thing. You can’t win a basketball game.
“We kept fighting and never quit, and that’s why we won the game,” said sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe, who contributed seven points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Wildcats.
VANDERBILT FOUGHT HARD TOO
Luke Kornet paced Vanderbilt with 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting and grabbed five rebounds, while Joe Toye added 15 for the Commodores (16-14, 9-8), who led 47-34 with 13:51 left in the game.
Vanderbilt, who shot 44.9 percent from the floor, connected on 11 3-pointers and made 12 of its 16 free throw attempts.
“Really proud of our team. Thought we came in for the first 35 minutes and really played at a great pace for us on offense and defense,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said.
“I thought we were able to keep them out of transition in the first half and the start of the second half. I think when things started to slip away is when they picked up their pressure.”
KENTUCKY TOOK ADVANTAGE OF TURNOVERS
The visitors had 18 turnovers, including 10 in the second half, which gifted Kentucky 17 points. The Wildcats collected 21 turnover points in total.
“I think we had 18 turnovers and I think they had 17 points off turnovers in the second half and we couldn’t get back and get 5-on-5 defense.
“Kentucky is probably the best transition team in the country.”
Kentucky, meanwhile, was 24-for-55 on shooting as a team for 43.6, but made only 5 of its 17 attempts from long-range.
The Wildcats were winning for the seventh straight time, while the Commodores had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Calipari praised Vanderbilt for its fighting spirit.
“How about let me say this, how about Vandy never gave up,” he noted. “How about that three went, and you thought the game was over, okay, we won.
“Oh, oh, you miss a couple free throws, you give up a three, and now it’s not over, and they kept playing.
“My hat’s I’ve to them and what they’ve been able to do and how they’re playing right now.”