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No. 5 Kentucky gets past Vandy, reaches SEC tourney semis

Sportsnaut
Mar 11, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA;  Kentucky Wildcats guard Sahvir Wheeler (2) drives tot the basket guarded by Vanderbilt Commodores guard Rodney Chatman (3) in the first half at Amelie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2022; Tampa, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Sahvir Wheeler (2) drives tot the basket guarded by Vanderbilt Commodores guard Rodney Chatman (3) in the first half at Amelie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

TyTy Washington scored 25 points, including two key 3-pointers late in the second half, and Oscar Tshiebwe notched 12 points and 14 rebounds to lift Kentucky to a 77-71 win against Vanderbilt on Friday in a Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinal game in Tampa.

The fifth-ranked Wildcats (26-6), seeded third in this tournament, advanced to face second-seeded Tennessee in a semifinal on Saturday afternoon.

Eleventh-seeded Vanderbilt, which topped Georgia and Alabama to begin tournament play, fell to 17-16 as its three-game winning streak ended.

Kentucky emerged in a game of runs to win for the fifth time in six games. Struggling from the floor around the midway point of the second half, the Wildcats regrouped and reeled off a 10-2 run to go ahead by nine with 4:32 left. Washington punctuated the sequence with eight points in just over two minutes.

Vanderbilt’s Jordan Wright led all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-12 shooting. Myles Stute (11 points) and Scotty Pippen Jr. (10) followed in double figures, but Pippen was frustrated from the floor, going 2 for 17.

Sahvir Wheeler amassed eight points, 11 assists and six rebounds for the Wildcats, while Davion Mintz and Jacob Toppin chipped in 10 points apiece.

After surrendering the first basket of the second half, the Commodores responded with 13-0 run to take a 46-39 lead with 16:36 remaining.

Kentucky regrouped thanks to the usual suspects. Tshiebwe secured his 14th successive double-double, his 26th this season, with 13:53 to go, converting a layup to put the Wildcats ahead 48-47.

With 12:35 left, referees whistled Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse for a technical foul as he argued a no-call of an apparent shot clock violation against his own team. With no whistle, Washington scored on the fast break, incensing Stackhouse. The play was part of a 15-1 run that put Kentucky ahead by eight.

Kentucky used a 5-0 spurt in the final minute of the first half to take a 37-33 lead into the break. Washington and Mintz paced the Wildcats with eight points apiece, while Stute had eight for the Commodores in the opening 20 minutes.

–Field Level Media