Saturday , Jan , 31 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Vandy rallies to shock Wildcats

Nashville, TN (Sports Network) – Matt Freije scored 20 points and keyed a big
late run with five points and a huge rebound, as Vanderbilt rallied for a
66-60 victory over fifth-ranked Kentucky at Memorial Gymnasium.

Freije also had 11 rebounds for Vandy (14-4, 3-4 SEC), which snapped a two-
game losing streak and won for only the second time in six games since opening
the season with 12 consecutive victories.

“Winning against Kentucky feels great,” said Freije. “We didn’t want to go 2-5
in the league, so this was an important game for us.”

Dawid Przybyszewski scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half for the
Commodores.

Erik Daniels scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Kentucky
(14-3, 4-2), which had a three-game winning streak stopped. Gerald Fitch also
scored 13 points, but was just 1-of-10 from three-point range, while Kelenna
Azubuike chipped in with 12 points.

“We didn’t execute very well, and their defense is very good,” said Fitch.
“They were swarming me quite a bit all day, and it was just one of those days,
especially from three-point range. The shots just weren’t falling today.”

The Wildcats had a 10-game conference road winning streak halted, losing away
from home in SEC play for the first time since a setback at Vandy on February
27, 2002.

“We always think we will pull it out, and today it just didn’t happen,” said
Daniels.

Kentucky held a six-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play, but Vandy closed
the contest with a 14-2 run.

A three-pointer by Dan Cage with 2:16 left put the Commodores ahead 61-60 and
Azubuike missed a shot from beyond the arc at the other end. Freije was fouled
on the rebound and hit one free throw for a two-point edge.

Kentucky then had two chances in the final 90 seconds, but twice turned the
ball over. The second turnover was forced by Russell Lakey, who was fouled and
missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17.7 seconds left.

Freije, however, tipped the long rebound out to teammate Scott Hundley, who
hit two from the line for a four-point lead with 14 seconds remaining.

“That’s something we practice every day,” Freije said about his tip. “On our
free throws we sometimes don’t go after the rebound, but we tip it out to our
guards.”

After another Kentucky miss, Freije made two more from the line for the final
margin.

Vanderbilt finished 19-of-26 from the line, while Kentucky got to the stripe
just nine times and converted seven.

“I want to commend the Commodores,” said Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith.
“They came ready to play and did what they had to do to win the game. They had
second shots and made their free throws.”

The Wildcats scored the first eight points of the second half as part of an
18-3 run. Daniels scored six during the surge, which Fitch capped with a pair
of layups that gave Kentucky a 53-43 cushion with just over 13 minutes left.

Vandy answered with the next nine points, before the Wildcats again opened a
small cushion at 58-52 with 4 1/2 minutes to play.

“We had opportunities to put them away and didn’t,” said Kentucky guard Cliff
Hawkins. “We had them by 10 at one point, but they made the plays down the
stretch.”

The first half featured a couple of big runs — one by each team.

After Kentucky raced out to a 9-4 lead, Vanderbilt scored the next 16 points.
Freije and Przybyszewski each hit a pair of three-pointers to key the spurt,
which gave the Commodores a 20-9 lead with just over 12 1/2 minutes to play in
the opening half.

A tip-in by Daniels for Kentucky was followed by another Przybyszewski three,
giving Vandy a 12-point edge at 23-11.

“I was still so hot from the warm-ups, and it showed up on the court,” said
Przybyszewski.

The Wildcats followed with a 16-2 run. Azubuike ignited it with a shot from
beyond the arc and scored seven during the burst. Two free throws by Chuck
Hayes capped it to give Kentucky a 27-25 advantage with 6:39 left in the half.

Mario Moore then scored inside to end Vandy’s field goal drought of 5 1/2
minutes. It also started a 10-2 run that Freije finished with a jump hook in
the lane for a 35-29 edge.

Vanderbilt went to the locker room with a 40-35 lead behind 13 points from
Freije. Azubuike scored 10 to lead Kentucky.

KENTUCKY VANDERBILT