‘We win the game, we move on.’ No. 5 Kentucky finds a way inside Rupp Arena


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari complains to a referee during the UK vs. Vanderbilt basketball game on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 77-70. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 5 Kentucky ousted Vanderbilt 77-70 on Wednesday night inside Rupp Arena.

Behind 44 fouls, including three flagrant-1 calls and two technicals, as well as 58 free throws and 28 turnovers, the Cats and Commodores provided one of the slower escapades in recent memory.  

“We win the game, we move on,” UK head coach John Calipari said. 

Kentucky was able to squeeze by the Dores despite being outshot and outrebounded. The Wildcats would shoot a measly 38.6 percent from the field, including making just eight of 29 shots in the second half. 

Much to the liking of Vanderbilt, either side was unable to find any sort of rhythm throughout the 40 minutes. Play after play, another player hit the deck while a whistle tainted the ears of Big Blue Nation.  

Both Calipari and Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse were hit with a technical foul along the way. 

Assistant coach Orlando Antigua was able to wrangle Calipari, but the same could not be said for Stackhouse.  

A few choice words and some steps towards midcourt accompanied the removal of a suit jacket as Rupp Arena roared, celebrating the call that went in favor of the Wildcats.  

When the final buzzer sounded, 17 different players had acquired at least one personal foul. 

“If I watch that tape and I’m the opposing coach, I say ‘let’s just try to beat the crap out of a couple of these guys, they’ll go away,’ you can’t accept that,” Calipari said.  

Kentucky guard Davion Mintz called the tilt one of the more physical games he has been a part of in his time in Lexington.  

As the foul count rose, so did the number of free throws. UK would out-do Vandy at the charity stripe, cashing in on 25 of 35 attempts, while the Commodores landed 15 out of 23. 

Scotty Pippen Jr led all scorers and free throw shooters, making nine of 12 freebies en route to a season-high 33 points. Pippen dropped 32 against Kentucky in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 11.  

“He plays great against us,” Calipari said about Pippen. “Every game I’ve coached against the kid, he probably averages 30 against us, he wishes he played us five times a year.”  

Calipari on the other hand, does not hold the same wishes.  

“We’re done. If we see them again, it’ll be in the tournament…and I hope we don’t see them in the tournament. 

While it was a slog, especially in the second half, Calipari commended his team for having the wherewithal to stand tall and not cower away from a challenge. 

“You get knocked around, it’s hard to be confident, it really is,” he said. “I don’t want you to have the weight of the world on you, just play. You don’t have to make every shot, you’re going to miss some, just play.” 

Wednesday night made Kentucky figure out a new way to win a game. It was a “rock fight” of sorts.  

It may not have been the follow-up performance that BBN was looking for after the demolition of Kansas in Lawrence, but good teams figure out how to win games, and that is just what the Cats did against the Commodores.  

Next up is a tall task in Tuscaloosa, as the Jekyll and Hyde Crimson Tide awaits UK, in what will be a raucous atmosphere inside of Coleman Coliseum.