LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- A futile first half for Matt Freije resulted in another futile trip to Rupp Arena for Vanderbilt.
Kelenna Azubuike collected 22 points and 11 rebounds as No. 5 Kentucky continued its home mastery of the 21st-ranked Commodores with a 75-63 Southeastern Conference victory.
Vanderbilt (12-1, 1-1 SEC East) entered hoping to win for the first time on its 27th visit to Rupp Arena. The Commodores boasted an undefeated team as well as the 6-10 Freije, the preseason SEC Player of the Year.
Kentucky (10-1, 1-0) bolted to a 15-3 lead, taking the steam out of Vanderbilt's hopes. It helped that Freije was a virtual no-show, going scoreless and taking only one shot before halftime against the physical defense of long-armed 6-8 Erik Daniels.
"He just guarded him really well," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "I'm sure Matt's disappointed and we're disappointed for Matt, but he gave a great effort and they did a great job of guarding him."
"I know that he is a great player," Daniels said. "A lot of their plays were centered around Matt and I tried to shut him down to the best of my ability."
Despite Freije's struggles, Vanderbilt climbed within 34-32 at halftime before Azubuike scored 10 points in a 14-3 spurt for Kentucky out of the locker room.
"It felt good tonight," Azubuike said. "I've just been trying to crash the boards and become more aggressive offensively."
Freije finally scored on a layup nearly eight minutes into the second half and his three-point play at the 5:51 mark cut the deficit to 57-55. Gerald Fitch, who scored 16 points, responded with four foul shots and an assist to Cliff Hawkins for a layup as Kentucky scored 11 of the next 13 points.
"We turned our defensive pressure up and took care of the ball," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "We made our free throws and got great play off our bench."
Mario Moore scored 15 points to lead Vanderbilt and Freije finished with 13 despite missing all five shots from the arc.
The Wildcats won for the 16th time in their last 17 SEC openers and 22nd time in their last 23 matchups with the Commodores.