Vanderbilt drops No. 23 Kentucky, advances to SEC semifinals

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Ezra Manjon scored 25 points and Vanderbilt defeated No. 23 Kentucky for the second time in nine days, 80-73 in the SEC tournament quarterfinals Friday night in Nashville, Tenn.

Tyrin Lawrence and Jordan Wright added 18 points each for the sixth-seeded Commodores (20-13), who won for the fifth straight game and 10th time in 11 games. They will face No. 2 seed Texas A&M, which defeated Arkansas 68-61, in the semifinals Saturday.

Antonio Reeves scored 22 points before fouling out, Jacob Toppin had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Oscar Tshiebwe added 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead the third-seeded Wildcats (21-11).

Vanderbilt started the second half with a 6-2 run to open a 45-36 lead. The lead grew to 12 before Kentucky twice trimmed it to six.

The Commodores rebuilt the lead to 11 midway through the half, but the Wildcats scored the next eight points.

Manjon’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to 66-60 before Kentucky closed within four on four occasions.

But the Wildcats couldn’t get closer and Lawrence’s jumper gave Vanderbilt a 75-69 lead with 1:11 left. The Commodores added five free throws in the final minute.

Vanderbilt, which lost to visiting Kentucky 69-53 on Jan. 24, defeated the host Wildcats 68-66 in the regular-season finale March 1.

Reeves made back-to-back 3-pointers to complete a 12-0 run that gave the Wildcats a 14-4 lead.

Manjon scored the final five points in an 8-0 run that pulled Vanderbilt within one point, but Kentucky answered with five straight for a 19-12 lead.

Lawrence’s layup got the Commodores within one point, but Toppin answered with five straight points that gave the Wildcats a 26-20 lead.

Vanderbilt got within one point before Kentucky scored the next six points, then went scoreless for the final three minutes.

A 3-pointer by Paul Lewis started a 12-0 run and a 3-pointer by Wright ended it to give the Commodores a 39-34 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

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