Coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats continued its dominance in Music City, drilling Vanderbilt 78-66 on Tuesday night in Nashville.
With the victory, Kentucky has now won 11 straight games against Vandy, including six straight at Memorial Gymnasium as Calipari now moves to 22-4 against the Commodores.
One again, Oscar Tshiebwe led the way with 30 points and 13 rebounds, his 12th double-double which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. Washington finished with 15 points as the only other Wildcat in double figures.
No. 18th-ranked Kentucky got off to a hot start as Tshiebwe and Washington combined to score the team’s first 17 points as the Wildcats ultimately raced out to a 22-11 advantage on a three-pointer from Davion Mintz, who made his first start of the season for the injured Sahvir Wheeler.
However, Vanderbilt went on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 22-all at the 7:05 mark before Kentucky went on its own 14-0 run as Tshiebwe hit a jumper to push the Cats ahead 36-22. Kentucky ended the half with a 19-5 run and shot 61% from the field to take a 13-point lead in the locker room at 41-28.
In the second half, Vandy fought back with a 16-0 run as Kentucky went cold from the field and did not score over the game’s final six minutes. However, the damage was done in the first half as the Wildcats now improve to 13-3 (3-1) and host No. 22-ranked Tennessee at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Tshiebwe has simply been a dream come true for Wildcat fans as the West Virginia transfer has been one of the nation’s most dominant players this season. Against Vandy, the 6-foot-9 forward, again turned heads as he became the first player to get 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game since Tayshaun Prince pulled it off in 2001 against North Carolina.
In looking at the numbers this season, Tshiebwe is in a class by himself as he’s first in the nation in rebounds per game (15.2) and offensive rebounds (5.5). He is also second in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (9.7) and leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (.621) which ranks 13th nationally.
Of course, Washington is also playing on another level, winning SEC Freshman of the Week honors the last three weeks, a feat last accomplished by former UK great Devin Booker who won the award four straight times during the 2014-15 season.
Taking over point guard duties the past two games, Washington has settled in as one of the premiere guards in the SEC and recently broke the school record for assists in a game with 17 against Georgia. Now a four-time SEC Freshman of the Week winner, the former 5-star recruit looks to be a one-and-done type of player as Kentucky is favored to win the SEC.
The Cats will need a healthy Wheeler on Saturday against the Vols to keep the momentum going in preparation for a tough SEC schedule in January.
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