Kentucky is playing for its 14th straight win against Vanderbilt Tuesday night. The Cats have not lost to their annual SEC rival since Kevin Stallings was on the sideline back in 2016. John Calipari is 24-4 against Nashville’s SEC team, but the wins have not always come easily.
One of three SEC teams the Wildcats face twice each year, Kentucky is no stranger to this strange environment. The games are not always close, but they can get weird. Let’s recall the weirdest of the weird before the teams tip-off at 9 pm EST on SEC Network.
2021: Kentucky Almost Blows 17-Point Lead
Two of Kentucky’s nine wins in the pandemic-plagued 2020-21 season were against the Commodores. After Davion Mintz drained a game-winning three at Rupp Arena, the Wildcats were confident in Nashville, leading by as much as 17 points to build a comfortable 12-point lead at halftime. That lead quickly evaporated after halftime. Vanderbilt scored 16 of the first 20 points of the second half to tie the ballgame, but the Commodores never could take the lead. They got within one in the final minute until Mintz and Jacob Toppin sunk free throws to secure the victory.
2018: Riley LaChoke’s at the Free Throw Line
Tied at 59 with less than four minutes remaining, John Calipari called Kevin Knox‘s number. The freshman scored five straight points to give UK the lead for good. Still, Vanderbilt had a chance to close the gap within one point when Riley LaChance blew it. The shooting guard hit a layup to cut the deficit to four. After a UK turnover, he was fouled on a three-point shot with 34.7 on the clock. The 88.9% missed all three free throws. Kentucky won 74-67.
2017: Malik Monk Saves the Day for Kentucky
A three ball from Riley LaChance cut the Kentucky lead to one with 90 seconds to play, but it wasn’t enough for the Commodores. Malik Monk scored six points in the final 32 seconds to propel Kentucky past pesky Vanderbilt 87-81. Isaiah Briscoe had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while De’Aaron Fox tallied 22 points and 5 boards in the victory.
2016: Jamal Murray not enough for Kentucky
Kentucky’s sensational shooting guard scored 33 points, but Jamal Murray got very little help. Tyler Ulis had 12 points and only two other Wildcats scored. Matthew Fisher-Davis‘ 20 points led four Commodores in double figures to propel Kevin Stallings’ team to a 74-62 victory, their only win over the Wildcats since the 2013 SEC Tournament.
2013: Digger Phelps Lectures Kentucky Fans & Nerlens Noel Sneaks Past Shot Clock
Few games in this series featured as many theatrics as the 2013 contest in Nashville. A year after Vanderbilt handed the National Champs their final loss of the 2012 season in the SEC Championship Game, College GameDay traveled to Nashville. During a commercial break, Digger Phelps brought out his highlighter and lectured Kentucky fans in the stands. “Listen to me, listen to me! This is Vanderbilt’s day. Don’t ruin it for them.”
SPOILER: Kentucky ruined it for the Commodores, despite blowing a 16-point lead. Kyle Wiltjer‘s only made field goal of the night gave the Cats a lead with two minutes to play. Clinging to a three-point advantage with less than 20 second on the clock, Nerlens Noel picked up a loose ball and sunk a layup. Officials counted the bucket, even though Kevin Stallings wanted a shot clock violation. The the play was not reviewed, which can be seen here, albeit without a good angle of the clock. Vandy hit a three on the following possession and had a chance to sink a game-winner, but Kentucky ultimately survived the mayhem.
1998: Nazr Mohammed Beats the Clock
Speaking of clock snafus, did Nazr Mohammed get off his game-winning shot in time? Tubby Smith hurried his players back to the locker room after the 6-foot-10 center’s floater banked softly off the glass and through the rim as time expired. The coast-to-coast play preserved a two-point win for the seventh-ranked Wildcats, who capped off Tubby Smith’s first season with a National Championship.