Tennessee’s No. 22 falls to Kentucky’s No. 18 in Lexington

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WATE) – Despite a combined Santiago Vescovi, Kennedy Chandler and Josiah-Jordan James for 48 points on Saturday, the No. 22 Tennessee Vols couldn’t get close to the No. 18 Kentucky in a 107-79 loss.

The loss marked the first time a Tennessee team gave up more than 100 points in 15 years.

Olivier Nkamhoua opened the scoring for the Vols with a jump shot, but Kentucky responded on their second possession with a TyTy Washington Jr. jumper to tie the score at 2.

John Fulkerson tried for Tennessee’s second bucket to resounding boos from fans who blanketed Rupp Arena in blue but missed. Kentucky grabbed the rebound and doubled it to take an early lead, 4-2. Chandler responded with a three-pointer to give Tennessee its only first-half lead, 5-4.

Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) shoots the ball during an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

Kentucky in return went on a 10-0 run fueled by three straight runs to give the Wildcats a 14-5 lead.

Tennessee struggled to defend the dribble, allowing the Wildcats to get inside scoring 24 points in the paint.

With 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Kentucky native Justin Powell scored a 3-pointer on his first shot of the game to bring the Vols within five, 30-25. But Kentucky pulled back to a 22-16 lead from Washington to put Tennessee in a 14-point hole at the break, 52-38.

Tennessee, which ranked No. 2 in the county in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowed 52 points in the first half for only the second time this season.

Kentucky continued to hold a shooting clinic in the second half. The Wildcats extend their lead to 56-38 before Chandler hits a 3-pointer for the Vols. But every Vols cart was answered by one from Kentucky. The Wildcast went on a 12-0 run to bring the score to 81-50.

Kentucky shot 68% (38 of 56) from the field, including 61% (11 of 18) from the 3-point line. The Wildcats also made 20 of 21 free throws.

Tennessee turned the ball over a season-high 20 times, giving the Wildcats 32 points. The Vols are 9-0 this season when they got past their opponents and on Saturday they lost the battle on the boards, 25-24.

The Vols shot 53% (31-58) from the field and 48% (11 of 23) from outside the arc in one of their best shooting performances of the season. Vescovi finished with 20 points for Tennessee. Chandler had 17 points. James was 11.

Washington had 28 points for the ‘Cats. Sahvier Wheeler finished with 21.

Tennessee drops to 11-5 on the season and 2-3 in SEC play. Kentucky is 14-3, 4-1 in SEC play.

About Harold Fergus

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