Wildcats shine bright on Senior Night, showing resiliency after rallying from a 19-point deficit in the biggest comeback during the Coach Cal era. Freshmen Malik Monk’s 20-point effort in the second half carry No. 9 Kentucky to a 73-67 victory over Vanderbilt.
Following an emotional Tuesday night of senior recognitions, especially with the engagement proposal by Derek Willis to his girlfriend Kelly Potts, Kentucky found themselves yet with another slow start against the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores.
Vanderbilt started out the gate hot, shooting their 75.0 field-goal percentage incorporated a 19-point lead early in the first half. The Kentucky faithful were quieted quickly, with doubts that their 27-game winning streak at home would be in jeopardy.
The Commodores left their mark in the game with draining eight 3-pointers early on, creating a sense of urgency for their opponent. Vanderbilt controlled the flow of the game, looking like they were the team at home.
Kentucky simply had to wake up, for they were ‘sleep walking’ in the first-half, scoring a season low: 29 points.
The Wildcats woke up quickly, scoring a 6-0 run in the 2nd half, which soared the crowd. It was only fitting that the team’s seniors were adding to the scoring surge on Senior Night.
Moments like these gives College Seniors like Dom Hawkins recognition for their valiant efforts, and leadership throughout the years. Hawkins, as well as other
teammates were praised by coach John Calipari. “Just a humble, smart, great teammate,” said Calipari.
Caliper’s relationship with his players were well examined Tuesday night and transitioned well in their game against Vanderbilt. Kentucky found a way to lock down, deeply within themselves and just play their hearts out.
Malik Monk was certainly one of those who played with heart, scoring 20 points in the second half once again. The 23,000 fans at Rupp Arena roared when the Wildcats found themselves within just a one-possession game with seven minutes left.
The defensive intensity for the Wildcats increased greatly, which proved to be a game changer, for the Commodores had over 10 turnovers in the second half.
De’Aaron Fox was not 100 percent healthy, but stepped up to lead his team to smart shots in the paint. He showed spirit, and his ability to shift into another gear helped spark Kentucky.
When it was down to the wire, less than 4 minutes in the game, it was ‘Malik Monk time’. Monk was also clutch shooting over 84.0 free-throw percentage, sealing a six-point victory, 73-67.
Sometimes in the game of College Basketball, you’re not going be at your best and you got to look for a way to win. Looks like Kentucky looked for no. 5.