Commodore Classics: 1993 MBB vs. Kentucky
June 27, 2013
Commodore Classics provides fans with a look at footage from historic games and moment in Vanderbilt's athletic history.
Video: MBB: 1993 vs. No. 1 Kentucky
Bonus Content: Season Highlights | Lawson's Putback at Buzzer Beats Louisville
1993 SEC Champs Revisited
Commodore Classics Archive: FB 1974 vs. No. 8 Florida
In the historical 1992-93 season in which Vanderbilt's men's basketball team claimed its third and most recent SEC regular season title, there was not a more important game along the way than when the Commodores defeated No. 1 Kentucky, 101-86, on Jan. 13, 1993 at Memorial Gym.
Vanderbilt had lost two straight games, falling at Memphis and at Florida, before defeating the Wildcats. Point guard Billy McCaffrey led the way with 22 points and a school-record 14 assists. Center Chris Lawson scored 19 points, guard Ronnie McMahan had 16 points and forward Bruce Elder added 10.
"We played Kentucky on a Tuesday and it might of been good news because we didn't have a lot of time to think about our loss much to Florida," former Vanderbilt Head Coach Eddie Fogler said recently. "I thought we played awfully well against Kentucky and then got on a great roll."
Coached by Rick Pitino, Kentucky entered the game winners of 12 straight games with its last loss coming courtesy of Christian Laettner's buzzer-beating shot in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 16-8 lead, but Vanderbilt tied the game at 46 at halftime before breaking open the game in the second half.
"The most memorable game for me was the Kentucky game," guard Frank Seckar said earlier this year. "The thing I remember about that is that we worked on a new press break the two days before that. That was the first time we did it. To have such a smart team that you could put a press break in in two days and beat the No. 1 team in the country ... it was pretty impressive to me as a freshman watching that stuff."
Defensively, Vanderbilt held Jamal Mashburn and his 23.4 scoring average to just 14 points. Travis Ford and Rodrick Rhodes each scored 18 for Kentucky.
"I think Coach Fogler had Rick Pitino's number when it came to his press," forward Malik Evans recalled. "Whenever Rick would do the press, it just wouldn't work. I think Fogler had his number concerning his press with the type of talent we had and the fact that we had four perimeter guys that could handle the ball and not turn it over. The next time we played them, I don't think they pressed at all.
The win over Kentucky sent the Commodores on a hot streak that saw them lose just one other conference game: at Kentucky. Despite splitting the season series with Kentucky, Vanderbilt claimed the conference title with a 14-2 record, one game better than the Wildcats.
"We knew we were a good basketball team and we were not going to let those two losses define us as not being tough enough or define us as just being close and not being able to get over the edge," McMahan said. "We just made up our minds that we were going to take care of business at home and the next opportunity we got on the road, we were going to take of business there, too.
Vanderbilt would go on and finish the season with a No. 8 ranking and a school-record 28 wins to go with just six losses. The Commodores' season ended with a loss to Temple in the Sweet 16. Kentucky would advance to the Final Four.
Bonus Videos from 1993 Season
1992-93 Season Highlights
Chris Lawson's Putback at Buzzer Beats No. 9 Louisville (Dec. 9, 1992)
Men's Basketball Headlines