Even on Valentine’s Day, there is no love lost for opposing teams entering Rupp Arena.
Tennessee (14-12, 6-7 SEC), just a few weeks removed from stunning then-top five Kentucky (21-5, 11-2 SEC), learned that the hard way. The No. 13 Wildcats dominated from start to finish on Tuesday evening en route to an 83-58 win.
Tennessee needed another marquee win on its résumé to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, but weren’t able to garner any shooting rhythm against a Kentucky team looking to make a statement. On the evening, the Vols shot under 35 percent, while the Wildcats shot 44 percent from 3-point range alone.
Admiral Schofield led the way for the orange and white, scoring a team-high 17 points, with 11 coming in the second half. However, with Kentucky grabbing a 47-32 halftime advantage, Schofield’s efforts weren’t nearly enough to dig Tennessee out of the hole. The Vols managed to keep the game close early in the first half, trailing the Wildcats 13-12, but Kentucky utilized an 18-3 run to establish control. A 19-7 second-half run by the Wildcats was the final nail in the Vols’ coffin. Overall, Kentucky guard Malik Monk scored a game-high 20 points, while freshman guard Jordan Bone contributed 15 points to Tennessee’s losing effort.
Unsurprisingly, head coach Rick Barnes wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance, especially considering the gameplan they had used against the Wildcats in Knoxville had worked so effectively.
“We were just awful,” Barnes bluntly stated. “We didn’t deserve a win tonight because we didn’t do the things we talked about from a mental standpoint or a physical standpoint…we had one major thing that we talked about. We did not want their four to bring them another option…that was a difference in the game early.”
The Vols will look to bounce back at home on Saturday when they take on the Missouri Tigers. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and the game can be viewed on SEC Network.
Edited by Quinn Pilkey
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics