By TERESA M. WALKER, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Doron Lamb hit a 3-pointer with 3:18 left to put No. 1 Kentucky ahead to stay, and the Wildcats took a big step toward a Southeastern Conference regular-season title by beating Vanderbilt 69-63 Saturday night for their 17th straight win.
Kentucky (25-1, 11-0) disrupted Vanderbilt with aggressive defense in the first half, and the Wildcats held off a furious charge in a sold-out and electric Memorial Gym by scoring the final eight points of the game. The young and talented Wildcats wound up holding off the experienced Vanderbilt squad that had been predicted to be their best challenge this season.
Lamb finished with 16 points, Anthony Davis added 15 points and seven blocks, Terrence Jones scored 14 and Marquis Teague had 13.
Vanderbilt (17-8, 6-4) led 63-61 with 4:08 to go on a bucket by Brad Tinsley. The Commodores didn't score again and snapped a four-game home winning streak over No. 1 teams. They missed a chance to pull into a tie with Florida for second in the SEC.
They had four senior starters and the top two scorers in the conference, but none of it was any match for Kentucky.
John Jenkins led Vanderbilt with 15 points, and Jeffery Taylor, Tinsley and Festus Ezeli added 13 each.
Kentucky had held its previous five opponents to an average of 49.6 points with the nation's stingiest field goal percentage defense at 35.8 percent. Vanderbilt came in with the SEC's best shooting team beyond the arc, and Kentucky held the Commodores to just 8 of 21 from 3-point range (38.1 percent) — well below their 42.1 percent average.
The Wildcats led 36-23 at halftime and had been up by as much as 14 in the first half.
Vanderbilt opened the second half by hitting six of its first seven shots from long range and 10 of its first 14 overall from the floor in rallying back.
Taylor, held to only two points in the first half, scored 11 as Vanderbilt chipped away at the lead, and his 3-pointer with 11:58 tied it up at 48. The Commodores got a turnover under the Kentucky basket, and Goulbourne passed to Tinsley for a dunk he celebrated with a scream, giving Vandy a 53-51 lead that was its first since 9-8.
Ezeli added a dunk for Vanderbilt's biggest lead.
Davis answered with a jumper and a dunk he finished with a free throw for a three-point play. Tinsley hit a 3-pointer before his bucket with 4:08 to go. Lamb then put Kentucky ahead to stay with his 3 from the left corner in front of the Wildcats' bench. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who played much of the second half in foul trouble, hit two free throws and Darius Miller also scored.
Taylor's 3-point attempt in the final minute was blocked by Davis before bouncing off the back of Ezeli's head.
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