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For Vanderbilt, no lead is safe against Kentucky

Kentucky has come back from a double-digit deficit in five of its last eight games against Vanderbilt.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Tuesday’s matchup against the Vanderbilt Commodores, Kentucky had won seven straight games against them, with four of those wins requiring double-digit comebacks.

Tuesday night proved to be the fifth game of that nature as the Wildcats stretched their win streak over Vanderbilt to eight despite a 14-point deficit.

If you added up Vanderbilt’s largest lead in each of those five games, it’d equal 69 points, which is more than they’ve scored in six of the last eight games between the two.

And they’ve still come up short every single time. Here’s a look at UK’s five double-digit comeback wins over Vanderbilt in the last four seasons:

Feb. 28, 2017

This is where the trend started — the Commodores led by as many as 19 points, as it was 25-6 with 8:04 left in the first half. Vanderbilt had a six-point lead going into halftime. As is often the case when Vanderbilt contends with UK, the Commodores outshot the Wildcats from deep, making 11 3-pointers compared to UK’s five.

But that didn’t stop Malik Monk from dropping 27 points off the bench, giving UK a six-point win.

UK’s largest run of the game was a 9-0 run, but the Wildcats had very few big bursts, as they spent most of the second half inching their way back to a win.

Jan. 30, 2018

Less than one calendar year later, the Wildcats broke Vanderbilt’s heart again by coming back from a 14-point deficit with 15:22 to play. UK used an 8-0 run right after Vanderbilt pushed its lead to 14 in order to help make the deficit manageable again.

Thanks to 30 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (and two game-tying free throws with two seconds left on the clock), UK forced overtime. Quade Green dropped the game-winning layup with six seconds left.

Jan. 12, 2019

Vanderbilt jumped out to a 16-4 lead early, but UK had worked that down to just two points by halftime. A 7-0 run in the first half helped to reduce the deficit. The Wildcats shot 50% from the field and got 15-point performances from both Keldon Johnson and Ashton Hagans in order to bounce back in the second half and win by nine.

UK held Vanderbilt to just 17 points in the second half of that game — the Commodores shot just 28% from deep and just 36% from the field as a whole.

Jan. 29, 2020 (less than two weeks ago)

UK has pulled the rug out from under Vanderbilt in back-to-back matchups, spanning less than two weeks’ time. The win at the end of last month came in spite of the fact that Vanderbilt made nine 3-pointers, and led by as many as 10 points.

Four of UK’s five starters reached double figures in scoring, and Nick Richards led the way with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey had a team high in scoring with 17 points.

Tuesday

This one should be familiar. Kentucky trailed by as many as 14, and Vanderbilt made eight 3-pointers in the first half.

But UK swatted 12 shots over the course of the night, and forced the Commodores to go 3-of-11 from deep in the second half. Combine that with Tyrese Maxey’s 25-point performance and Hagans’ near triple-double, and it’s clear to see why UK pulled off the comeback yet again.