Five takeaways from Kentucky’s 77-71 win over Vanderbilt


Kentucky Wildcats forward Lance Ware (55) celebrates during the UK vs. Vanderbilt mens SEC Tournament quarterfinals basketball game on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. UK won 77-71. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky fought past the feisty Vanderbilt Commodores 77-71 on Friday night inside Amalie Arena, advancing to the semifinals of the 2022 SEC Tournament. 

The Wildcats will take on the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon. 

Here are five takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Vandy: 

TyTy’s takeover propels the Cats 

Headlined by eight-straight points down the stretch, a 17-point second half from TyTy Washington catapulted Kentucky past Vanderbilt. 

The freshman finished with 25 points on 8-17 shooting. He finally found his 3-point stroke, as he connected on four deep balls, a welcomed sight for Kentucky. 

Oscar Tshiebwe did his usual business, totaling 12 points and 14 rebounds, but it was Washington who took the Wildcats over the finish line. 

If Washington can become the closer for this Kentucky team, Friday night was a step in that direction. 

Turnovers nearly cost Kentucky 

Finishing with 12 turnovers, Kentucky played a rather sloppy game of basketball on Friday night. 

They allowed 21 Vandy points off turnovers, nearly leading to an early exit in the quarterfinals. 

Wheeler’s four TO’s led Kentucky, although four Wildcats committed at least two turnovers. 

It goes without saying, but the Cats won’t get away with that many mistakes on Saturday against Tennessee. 

Jacob Toppin is UK’s missing piece to a title 

Adding 10 points, Toppin proved on Friday night that he just may be the missing piece that Kentucky needs to elevate towards a National Championship. 

Keion Brooks was on the bench for much of the first half, allowing Toppin a chance to shine, even with a bloody nose. 

After scoring just 11 points in his last three games, John Calipari should be overjoyed with the output he’s getting from the seventh man in his rotation. 

His masked-up second half solidified that his slow stretch to close out the regular season was not going to be indicative of his play in March. 

Kentucky is going to need the junior to continue to step up as the postseason rolls on. 

Scotty Pippen Jr stifled 

After erupting for 32 and 33 points in his two previous games against Kentucky, Vandy’s star man was kept in check on Friday, scoring just 10 points on 2-17 shooting. 

Thanks to better backcourt defense from Wheeler and Washington, mixed in with some poor shot selection, Pippen never got into his second gear, even air-balling a couple of shots. 

It was instead Jordan Wright who did the damage for Vandy. he finished with 27 points, as his stroke was there for the Dores all night long. 

Big Blue Nation invades Tampa

Following the conclusion of Tennessee vs. Mississippi State, Amalie Arena quickly morphed into a sea of Kentucky blue.

The phrase “blue got in” was as prevalent as ever on Friday. Though Lexington and Tampa are a 12 hour-drive apart, that didn’t stop Big Blue Nation from making the trek down to the Sunshine State. 

While the Cats and Dores played on a neutral court, it had all the makings of a home game for Kentucky. 

Blue got in, indeed.