A.J. Ogilvy was not supposed to take the shot. That didn’t mean he couldn’t make it.
Ogilvy’s runner from the lane as time expired bounced off the rim, though, and left Vanderbilt’s players, coaches and a sellout crowd of 14.316 at Memorial Gymnasium to digest a 58-56 loss to Kentucky.
“I hoped it was good,” Ogilvy said. “It looked good out of my hand, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
The defeat likely cost the 17th-ranked Commodores (20-6, 9-3 in conference) any chance to win the SEC’s Eastern Division and tarnished slightly the magical reputation of their venerable home court.
Even so, the outcome was very much in doubt until that final moment. Neither team led by more than six points at any time or by more than four in the second half. There were 14 ties and 11 lead changes.
Second-ranked Kentucky (26-1, 11-1) had a chance to seal the deal early but missed three of four free throws in the final 11.4 seconds. Freshman John Wall made the second of two tries with 2.5 seconds remaining, which gave Vanderbilt, down by two, an inbound play under the UK basket.
Darshawn McClellan threw a long pass to Ogilvy, who caught it, spun to his left and headed for the basket. He got off a running one-hander before the buzzer sounded.
“It was pretty close to the basket,” Stallings said. “To cover that amount of ground and you get a little runner there … believe it or not, we practice those shots, at least our big guys do.
“It was a pretty good look, in my opinion, for having 2.5 seconds to play and having to go the length of the floor.”
Ogilvy’s first option, though, was a pass to forward Jeffery Taylor cutting to the basket. When Ogilvy caught the ball, he looked for Taylor and saw the blue shirt of a Kentucky defender between them and proceeded on his own.
“They denied what we were looking for,” Ogilvy said. “I probably could have taken another dribble and gotten a better shot, but it came down to (the fact that) we had a shot to tie it, and I missed it.”
Stallings drew up the play during a timeout, courtesy of Kentucky. The Commodores used their last one with 12.6 seconds to go, but got the clock stopped when Kentucky called one following Wall’s free throw.
“I made a mistake in calling the timeout with two seconds left in the game,” UK coach John Calipari said. “I should have just let Vandy go and play but I gave them a chance to set up a final play. Coach Stallings is a great coach and prepared his team well and got his main guy the ball with a chance to make a shot.”
While the result was not what the Commodores wanted, the play was a fitting conclusion to what transpired in the preceding 39-plus minutes.
Other than a few select moments, both teams’ best chance to score was to go to the basket.
Combined they made just five 3-pointers on 36 attempts – Vanderbilt was 2-for-20; Kentucky was 3-for-16. Nearly half of the total points (30 for UK, 24 for VU) came in the paint.
The only 3-pointers either side made during the second half at least were timely ones. Patrick Patterson broke a 49-49 tie for Kentucky with 3:55 to play, and Vanderbilt never led after that. The Commodores did get within one, 57-56, when John Jenkins made one with 12.9 seconds remaining.
Jenkins attempted another with three seconds to go, but it was blocked by Wall.
“We’re disappointed,” Taylor, who had a team-high 17 points said. “We had a chance to beat a real good team on our home court. We just wanted to do it for our fans. We wanted to get it done for the student body.
“We just couldn’t get it done. So it hurts.”
• Vanderbilt got a career-high eight rebounds from Steve Tchiengang and outrebounded Kentucky 40-36. It was the 13th time this season the Commodores outrebounded an opponent but the first time it lost when doing so.
• Vanderbilt shot a season-low 29 percent from the field in the first half. Its previous low through the opening 20 minutes was 29.6, eight days earlier against LSU.
• Patterson’s 3-pointer ran to seven his streak of consecutive games with at least one. The junior forward was 0-for-4 in his first two seasons combined but has made 19 of 47 this season.
• Wall and DeMarcus Cousins moved to fourth and fifth, respectively, on Kentucky’s all-time freshman scoring list. Wall raised his total to 424 and Cousins got his to 417.