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Vanderbilt's Jordan Wright and Jerry Stackhouse Wright Explain How Vanderbilt Beat Kentucky

Vanderbilt's Jordan Wright and Jerry Stackhouse Wright Explain How Vanderbilt Beat Kentucky

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Stackhouse Wright explain how Vandy took down Kentucky

Vanderbilt University continued its march towards the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night when it earned a 68-66 victory at Kentucky. This victory caps off an impressive 7-3 run for the Commodores since their heartbreaking loss to Kentucky 69-53 on Jan. 24 in Nashville.

But the Commodores suffered an important blow when star center Liam Robbins went down with a leg injury early in the game. Wright, who had been Vandy's leading scorer while Pippen was absent, filled in admirably.

1. Ezra Manjon’s 3 with 6:30 to go

The Commodores (17-13, 10-7 SEC) snapped Kentucky's 14-game winning streak at Rupp Arena by scoring 23 points behind Jordan Wright's four 3-pointers for a decisive win.

For the first time since February, Vanderbilt's 6-foot-6 guard came off the bench eager to fulfill a promise he made to coach Jerry Stackhouse: that he would lead Vanderbilt to victory against every team on its schedule that they had never defeated before. And that proved true as Vanderbilt earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament position under Stackhouse's direction.

In the opening minutes of the first half, Liam Robbins -- star center and leader in points, rebounds and blocks per game -- appeared to have suffered an all-too-familiar setback when he crumpled to the floor and immediately left the court. He went straight to the locker room without returning to play again.

After some miscues from Vanderbilt's top players, Vandy began to play with more urgency. With 15:51 remaining in the half, Quentin Millora-Brown hit a confident 3-pointer for an impressive 31-30 advantage.

With 6:30 left in the half, UC Davis transfer Ezra Manjon made a three-pointer that put Vandy up by six. Vandy had dominance on the perimeter all night long - going 10 of 25 from beyond the arc and holding Kentucky to 32 percent shooting.

Unfortunately, two turnovers late in the second half cost UK an opportunity to make a run. Oscar Tshiebwe missed a bonus opportunity with 3:48 left, and Jacob Toppin missed a layup that could have cut the deficit to 65-62.

On Senior Night, the Wildcats (20-10, 11-6 SEC) had a chance to honor their senior class with victory against Vanderbilt and secure third seed in the SEC Tournament. All they needed was one win against Vanderbilt for that to happen.

On their next possession, Kentucky turned the ball over again, giving Vanderbilt a commanding lead and enabling them to pull away with the game. But in the final three minutes of the half, Vanderbilt couldn't muster any offense as they went 4:05 without a field goal and nearly five minutes without making one. Eventually, with just 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation time, Vanderbilt held on for a 68-66 victory.

2. Quentin Millora-Brown’s jumper with 1:11 to go

On Wednesday night in Rupp Arena, Vandy took down Kentucky 68-66 for their seventh win in eight games to improve to 17-13 overall and 10-7 in SEC play. As a result, Wright had plenty of praise for his teammates after the victory.

At one point, the Commodores trailed Kentucky by five with less than a minute remaining, but they held them to just three field goals and shut down their long-ball attack. That was enough for Vanderbilt to pull away and secure victory in an exciting final minute of 3:22.

On Senior Night in Lexington, the Vandals upset Kentucky for the first time ever - spoiling UK coach John Calipari and his players' plans. Heading into kickoff, Kentucky had been a 10-point favorite and needed just a win to clinch their third seed in the SEC Tournament. But the Commodores came back from behind to take control of the game and seal victory over Tennessee with ease.

After a slow start to the game, Vandy opened up the second half on an impressive 6-0 run that included two consecutive three-pointers from Ezra Manjon. With just under six minutes remaining in the halftime break, Vandy had taken command 35-31.

With 24 seconds remaining in the half, Millora-Brown found himself at the top of the key with an opportunity to hit a 3-pointer. He duly delivered, hitting it with confidence and precision for his first career made 3.

At the half, Vandy was eager to build upon their impressive first half performance and Millora-Brown's three-pointer provided just that. His basket gave Vandy a 34-30 lead at halftime and they held off Kentucky for the remainder of the period to take a commanding 39-34 advantage into intermission.

Millora-Brown returned in the second half eager to improve upon his game, and that's exactly what he did. His free throw shooting has improved to almost double what it was last season, while he's also playing much more with the ball.

QMB has worked hard this season and it has paid off, with his turnover rate dropping significantly compared to what he averaged as a freshman. Furthermore, he's spending significant amounts of time in the film room with the Commodores' guards to improve his understanding of the game.

3. Jordan Wright’s game-winner with six seconds left

On Wednesday night, Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse gave Jordan Wright the encouragement he needed to hit a go-ahead jumper with six seconds remaining for an exciting 68-66 victory against Kentucky at Rupp Arena. This victory propelled Vanderbilt (17-13, 10-7 SEC) to its program-best 10 wins in league play and extended their winning streak to seven games.

With just under three minutes remaining, the Commodores were down by two points when Oscar Tshiebwe drove for a layup. Stackhouse declared it an "historic" win against his house-king.

Once Stackhouse had the ball back, he turned to Wright who had scored only four points in the first half and missed all of his three-point attempts since an early season loss to Florida. After the break, however, 19 of Wright's 23 points were scored.

He shot 7 of 8 from the field, including an impressive 4-for-4 showing from 3-point range. Additionally, he had six rebounds, three assists and a steal to round out his performance.

The Commodores took an early 46-35 lead after the first half and extended it by as many as 11 points in the second. Mississippi State rallied to pull within 56-53 with 9:09 left before Vanderbilt completed a 16-1 run to seal it for them. The Bulldogs (14-12, 7-6 SEC) cut their deficit to 67-62 with 5:58 remaining before Vanderbilt sealed it on a 16-1 run.

In the following five minutes, Ezra Manjon, Tyrin Lawrence and Myles Stute combined for nine of the Commodores' 15 points as they held the Wildcats to just 28 percent shooting from the field and 3 of 17 from beyond the arc - an impressive feat considering Tolu Smith had matched his career high with 27 points and 11 rebounds on this night.

With four minutes left, the Commodores had just enough for a win over the Wildcats even without star center Liam Robbins. Millora-Brown scored 10 of her 11 points in 19 minutes, Stute had five of his 12 points and Wright made all four of his 3-pointers to give Atlanta its first victory at Rupp Arena since January 2007.

Stackhouse expressed that winning against a team ranked in the AP Top 25 means so much to his team, and it was something he never expected. It was an unforgettable victory that he and his players could truly celebrate together.

4. Liam Robbins’ 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left

On Saturday night, Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse hugged his star center Liam Robbins after Vandy had pulled off an upset victory against Kentucky 74-71. Unfortunately, Robbins suffered a knee injury with four minutes remaining and Kentucky went on an 16-0 run to take an insurmountable lead that they would not relinquish.

Robbins had lost four straight games and was considered one of Stackhouse's top recruits, yet he wasn't about to be benched. Instead, the 7-footer would get an opportunity to prove his worth to the Commodores.

He followed instructions exactly, and with less than 3.5 seconds remaining threw the ball to Jordan Wright who moved back toward his original spot on the right side of the court.

He swung his hips and spun back towards the middle of the paint, where he dropped a dribble-drive pass for Lawrence to catch. Lawrence made an impressive catch with just enough air left in his hands for it to land with ease.

It was the ideal shot to seal the game for Vandy, and Wright made it count. After missing two 3-pointers during the contest, Wright came through clutch on the other end to help Vandy win its sixth consecutive game and earn their first SEC Tournament bid since 2017.

That's an impressive accomplishment for a player who had only made six of his previous 17 shots before Saturday. Now he is shooting 50 percent from deep and averaging 21.6 points per game during Vanderbilt's three-game winning streak.

But more than anything else, this victory served as a reminder that Stackhouse and his team still possess the potential to make an improbable run at the NCAA Tournament - something not much has been said in his four seasons as Vandy coach or Bryce Drew's three turbulent years before it.

His tenure has seen him strive to build teams capable of competing in the NCAA Tournament, yet his efforts have not been fruitful. That is why it was so remarkable when Vanderbilt upset Kentucky and completely destroyed Senior Night in the process.

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