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Antonio Reeves, No. 15 Kentucky take on Vanderbilt

Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) goes for a layup against Arkansas Razorbacks forward Chandler Lawson (8) during their game on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at Rupp Arena.
Credit: Clare Grant/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kentucky has revved up the offense and will aim for its seventh 100-point outing of the season when it faces Vanderbilt in Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday night at Lexington, Ky.

The No. 15 Wildcats have exceeded the century mark in two of their past three games. They also did so earlier this season against the Commodores when they prevailed 109-77 on Feb. 6 at Nashville, Tenn.

Kentucky (21-8, 11-5) is averaging 106.3 points while winning its last three games, putting up 117 against Alabama and 91 vs. Mississippi State before outscoring visiting Arkansas 111-102 on Saturday.

The six 100-point outings are the most since Kentucky recorded nine such outings during the 1995-96 season while winning the national championship.

Against Arkansas, the Wildcats had seven double-figure scorers for the first time since a 94-78 victory over Mississippi State on Feb. 19, 2005.

Antonio Reeves led the way with 22 points. It was his fifth consecutive 20-point effort, the longest streak by a Kentucky player since Jamal Murray had 12 in a row during the 2015-16 campaign.

One of the key contributors was D.J. Wagner, who scored 19 points and made a career-best four 3-pointers. Wagner said the Wildcats remained composed even when Arkansas held a nine-point lead with just over nine minutes remaining.

“We just kept fighting no matter what,” Wagner said. “They are a very talented team and they hit some tough shots, so it was important for us to lock in on defense, come together as a team, and make sure we communicated on the small things.”

Rob Dillingham and Aaron Bradshaw added 15 points apiece for a team ranked third nationally at an average of 89.6 points per game.

Bradshaw was pleased with the team’s resolve.

“Effort, you know we don’t want to lose,” he said. “We don’t like losing; that’s not our thing. So the guys did what they did.”

Reeves, who averages a team-leading 20.0 points per game, made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points in the 32-point road win over Vanderbilt last month. The Wildcats made 15 of 26 from behind the arc.

Evan Taylor made five 3-pointers and scored 20 points for the Commodores. Taylor leads Vanderbilt with 44 3-pointers.

The Commodores (8-21, 3-13) have dropped four of their past five games after falling 75-61 to visiting LSU on Saturday. Tyrin Lawrence scored 21 points for his second straight 20-point effort and sixth of the season.

The previous contest saw Vanderbilt post an impressive 85-82 victory at Arkansas. Ezra Manjon led the way with 22 points for his fourth 20-point effort of the campaign.

That victory was the Commodores’ first road win in nine attempts this season.

“Any road game is tough,” Manjon said afterward. “We were playing great and went up big in the second half, and then they kind of started making threes and their crowd got into it and it got pretty tough. But it was just a matter of our older guys weathering the storm. That’s what you’ve got to do to get a road win in the SEC.”

Now Vanderbilt will look to serve up an even bigger road upset, but it also can point to last season’s 68-66 upset win in Lexington on March 1.

Manjon leads the Commodores with a 14.3 scoring average. Lawrence is just behind him at 13.7.

–Field Level Media

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