Malik Monk scored 27 points, 20 of which came in the second half, and De’Aaron Fox scored 13 as Kentucky landed their biggest come-from-behind win under Coach Cal, beating Vanderbilt 73-67 at home on Tuesday night despite trailing 25-6 at one point midway through the first half.
Kentucky just wasn’t ready to play in the first half. Between Senior Night, Derek Willis’ proposal and the emotional drain of Saturday’s win over Florida, it shouldn’t have come has much of a shock that the No. 9 Wildcats got off to a slow start. But their inability to do anything on the offense end of the floor combined with the fact that Vandy couldn’t miss from the perimeter was not a good combination.
After the first 10 minutes of the game, things started to change. Kentucky’s defense turned up to a different level as Vandy got flustered by the pressure and the atmosphere, committing 18 turnovers — roughly half of which were unforced — as they slowly allowed the Wildcats to chip away at the lead. Kentucky didn’t take the lead until late in the second half and they didn’t take control of the game until Monk hit a three with less than a minute left to put them up seven.
For Monk, this was the sixth time this season that’s he’s scored at least 20 points in a half. He had 30 points in the second half of Saturday’s win over Florida. This was also the second straight game that he’s been terrible for the early portion of the game.
The biggest takeaway from this game for UK fans is Fox, however. He still doesn’t look right, as he’s battling a contusion on his knee, and he hasn’t looked right for a month. He did have 13 points, but he had just one assists and five turnovers and wasn’t nearly as aggressive as we have become accustomed to seeing him be.
His health is one of the most under-discussed story lines as we head into the NCAA tournament.