NEW ORLEANS(Ticker) -- Vanderbilt stayed with No. 2 Kentucky long enough to avoid humiliation, but still came out on the wrong end of an 81-63 rout in the Southeastern Conference quarterfinals.
Vanderbilt (11-18), which lost 106-44 at Kentucky on March 5, looked ready to continue the national trend of upsets early on, taking a 17-8 lead in the first 7:37. But Kentucky (27-3) came alive late in the first half and held a 36-28 lead at intermission after a 14-2 run to close the period.
"I would like to compliment Vanderbilt after the way that we won in Lexington and for them to come out tonihgt and play the type of game they did," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "Tonight they got after us early. They got on us hard defensively and made it a tough game for us."
Jules Camara scored six of his 13 points during the Wildcats' surge. Kentucky continued its onslaught at the start of the second half, using a 12-2 spurt to put a stranglehold on the game with a 48-30 lead five minutes after halftime.
"We just weren't up to the task," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We got off to a good start, but they made that run in the first half and the start of the second that was our downfall."
The Wildcats, who won their 21st straight game, will meet Auburn in the semifinals on Saturday after the Tigers defeated Tennessee, 66-53.
Keith Bogans scored 16 points to lead Kentucky, which also got 11 from Marquis Estill and 10 from Erik Daniels. Bogans shot 6-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
"We were knocking down the shots and playing wiht a lot of strength," Bogans said. "Once we picked up our defensive intensity in the second half we were able to finish it out."
In his first start of the season, Kentucky guard Cliff Hawkins dished out a season-high nine assists.
Mario Moore led Vanderbilt with 18 points and Matt Frieje added 13.
Vanderbilt shot 35 percent (21-of-60) from the field, a clip that left them with no chance on a night when Kentucky shot 53 percent (31-of-58).
"We didn't respond to their run in the second half," Frieje said. "We weren't able to respond to their defensive pressure and finish."
The Commodores tied a school record with their 18th loss and had their lowest win total since 1985.
Kentucky had its largest margin of victory in an SEC tournament game since the 2001 championship game against Mississippi, when it won 77-55. The tournament has been the Wildcats' playground, as they are 100-17 all-time in the event.
The Wildcats lead Division I with 15 victories in road or neutral-site games. They trailed by 14 points early in their game at Vanderbilt on January 14, but came back for a 74-52 win.
"I think that they played tough and we responded well to the challenge," Camara said. "There was a good team effort and we played with a lot of intensity, especially in the second half."
Camara's 13 points matched the total of Vanderbilt's bench.