LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Never had Kentucky faced such a deep hole under coach John Calipari, a situation that took nearly everything the ninth-ranked Wildcats had to overcome Vanderbilt before holding on.
Their defensive urgency created offensive chances for Malik Monk to deliver once again.
Monk scored 20 points in the second half, including 10 in the final 3:40, as Kentucky rallied from a 13-point deficit and held off Vanderbilt 73-67 on Tuesday night to clinch a share of the Southeastern Conference regular season title.
After trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, the Wildcats, who overcame the largest deficit under Calipari, were still down 47-34 with 13:51 remaining. They clamped down defensively and gave their shooters chances to contribute and earn a hard-fought victory. Monk thrived the most, making a go-ahead 3 with 3:40 left before adding another long-range shot with 49 seconds left for 69-62 lead.
The freshman guard then made four free throws in the final 21 seconds to finish with 27 points for Kentucky (25-5, 15-2), which shot 58 percent in the second half. Bam Adebayo added 16 points and De'Aaron Fox had 13 after a one-game absence with a knee injury. Each scored 10 points after the break.
Vanderbilt: The SEC's best 3-point shooting team showed its strength often, making 6 of 16 in the first half including four straight during one stretch for a 25-9 lead. The Commodores finished 11 of 28 but went cold for several stretches in the second half and couldn't stop Kentucky's momentum once it got the lead. Foul trouble by Nolan Cressler - who fouled out late - Toye and Riley LaChance also hurt, though not as much as 10 second-half turnovers.
''I don't think fatigue was an issue,'' said Kornet, who went 7 of 13 from the field with three 3s. ''I think we struggled executing and creating the same spacing as well as making that extra pass that we were in the first half. Defensively, we just struggled to get stops and that was the big difference.''
Vanderbilt: Hosts No. 12 Florida on Saturday in season finale, seeking a season sweep of the Gators. The Commodores won 68-66 on Jan. 21.