Knoxville, TN – Coach Calipari and the UK Wildcats took the short trip down I-75 to Knoxville to play a desperate Tennessee team who opened up the SEC 0-2. Kentucky came into the night, carrying a 2 game losing streak at Rocky Top, and only winning one of their last 4. A crowd of 21,678 filed into Thompson-Bolin Arena to watch these two top 20 ranked SEC teams clash.
Kentucky started the game with their usual lineup, Green, Diallo, Washington, Knox and Richards. PJ Washington played the leading role for the ‘Cats in the first half scoring 11 points on 5 for 7 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals, a stat line that Cal would have taken for the game. Diallo picked up two quick fouls and was sent to the bench early. Gabriel came off the bench to connect for 3 three-pointers and quiet the crowd in orange going into the half. At the half UK lead 37-29.
Tennessee fans booed UK as they took the floor out of the locker room, but the young ‘Cats didn’t let it get to them…until the second half started. Tennessee went on a 6-0 run to start the second half, and Diallo picked up his 3rd foul 22 seconds into the half. UT would tie the game at 39 with 17:28 to play, the first time they had tied the game since 14:18 in the first.
After a foul call on Tennessee, the refs second guessed the call and went to the review. During the review, both coaches were assessed technical that neither coach knew why when asked after the game. The game changing play came on a loose ball when PJ Washington went down hard and was helped to the locker room with 12:33 to play. As play started back, Diallo picked up his 4th foul of the night, sending him to the bench. Soon thereafter, Wenyen Gabriel was called for his 5th foul leaving UK without their two leading scorers. UT would go onto stretch their lead out to 11 and never looked back, going on to outscore Kentucky 47-28 in the second half and notch their first SEC win of the year with a final score of 76 to 65. Tennessee has now won 4 of their last 5 in Knoxville over the ‘Cats and their third straight.
Kentucky falls to 12-3 on the year and lost for the first time this year when leading at the half. Tennessee improves to 10-4 on the year. The ‘Cats will host another to 25 ranked team in Texas A&M on Tuesday night back home at Rupp Arena at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.