No. 5 Kentucky bought the sturdy begin it sought in opposition to No. 1 Tennessee and for a second was blowing out the Volunteers.
Most necessary was that the Wildcats completed off the Vols on a nationwide stage, simply what they wanted days after letting one slip away.
PJ Washington scored 23 factors, Keldon Johnson added 19 and Kentucky beat Tennessee 86-69 Saturday evening to finish the Volunteers’ school-record, 19-game successful streak.
The Wildcats used a 25-7 surge over just a little greater than seven minutes for a 62-38 lead, offering a cushion that withstood the Volunteers’ 13-Zero spurt quickly after that lower the benefit in half. Kentucky maintained a double-digit result in win the extremely anticipated matchup of top-five colleges.
Kentucky (21-4, 10-2) additionally prevented a second consecutive SEC loss to remain inside attain of co-leader Tennessee (23-2, 11-1), which hadn’t misplaced since Nov. 23 to No. 2 Kansas. Its margin of victory was the biggest in opposition to the AP’s top-ranked crew, surpassing a 15-point win over Florida in 2003.
“It reveals all people that we will nonetheless play with nice groups on this league and likewise within the nation,” stated Washington, who scored Kentucky’s first seven factors and completed 9 of 12 from the sphere for his seventh 20-point effort up to now eight video games.
Johnson, in the meantime, made eight of 14 with three 3-pointers because the Wildcats shot 55 %. Tyler Herro had 15 factors and 13 rebounds as Kentucky beat Tennessee 39-26 on the glass.
It was an enormous enchancment from Tuesday evening’s 73-71 dwelling loss to No. 19 LSU, a sport selected a last-second tip-in the Wildcats thought was basket interference. Nonetheless, Kentucky performed an enormous position with breakdowns and questionable photographs that permit the Tigers rally and ultimately win the sport.
The Wildcats rebounded with an effort that was thorough in lots of phases.
They outscored the Vols 36-20 within the paint and edged them 17-14 in second-chance factors. And as an alternative of letting Tennessee increase its one encouraging run, Kentucky did what it needed to do to maintain a double-digit benefit.
“I hit them proper after the sport with LSU and stated, ‘Hey, that was a troublesome loss,’” Kentucky coach John Calipari stated. “However you realize, we would have liked it. We have to return to what we had been, and generally you’ve bought to get knocked within the head to know that.
“So the loss to LSU most likely helped us win this sport.”
Apart from managing to enter the break trailing 37-31 and that second-half run, Tennessee wasn’t an element.
Jordan Bone had 19 factors and Admiral Schofield scored 17 for the Volunteers, who made the sport’s first basket however trailed afterward. Tennessee shot 35 % within the second half and 41 % general in its first sport in opposition to a ranked crew since beating then-No. 1 Gonzaga 76-73 on Dec. 9.
“Tonight, we weren’t Tennessee powerful,” Schofield stated. “Kentucky was completely kicking our butt, scoring the ball, protection, all the things.”
Tennessee will probably fall from atop the AP Prime 25 with the loss. Kentucky ought to transfer up a few spots with its greatest win this season.
Tennessee: The Volunteers by no means bought an opportunity to take the three-game lead they sought in opposition to Kentucky and should watch for the March 2 rematch in Knoxville to get revenge. That can require improved taking pictures and rebounding after a sport by which they struggled at each.
“We had some photographs early and didn’t make them, and that’s a part of it,” coach Rick Barnes stated. “However they’re not giving a lot room to work with.”
Kentucky: The Wildcats wanted this win on some ways after letting LSU off the hook. They nonetheless have floor to make up on the Volunteers however succeeded not solely in getting forward of Tennessee, however closing out the Vols. Reid Travis had 11 factors and Ashton Hagans had seven assists.
The introduced attendance of 24,467 was the third-largest in Rupp Area historical past, and the noise made it laborious for Kentucky’s gamers to speak with one another.
“There was one level within the first half I couldn’t hear something,” Washington stated. “I used to be making an attempt to speak to Ash (Hagans), however I couldn’t even hear myself. It was simply nice to have an environment like that.”
Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt on Tuesday evening, in search of a season sweep after escaping the Commodores 88-83 in time beyond regulation on Jan. 23.
Kentucky visits Missouri on Tuesday evening, seeking to enhance to 12-1 in opposition to the Tigers.
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