KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Immanuel Quickley scored 18 points as No. 15 Kentucky beat Tennessee 77-64 on Saturday to win for the sixth time in seven games and end its recent history of frustration in this building.
The Wildcats (18-5, 8-2 SEC) beat Tennessee in Knoxville for the first time in Rick Barnes’ five-season tenure as the Volunteers’ coach.
Tennessee (13-10, 5-5) had won its last four home games with Kentucky, including two instances when the unranked Vols beat a ranked Wildcats squad. Kentucky had been the higher-ranked team in each of those four matchups.
The Wildcats’ last victory over Tennessee in Knoxville came when a top-ranked Kentucky team featuring future NBA stars Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns won 66-48 on February 2015. That Kentucky team went on to carry an unbeaten record into an NCAA semifinal loss to Wisconsin.
Quickley was one of five Kentucky players to score in double figures. Tyrese Maxey and Nick Richards each had 15 points, Johnny Juzang had a career-high 13 and Ashton Hagans added 10.
Santiago Vescovi scored 18 points for Tennessee, which lost for the fourth time in its last five games. Jordan Bowden and Josh Fulkerson added 16 points each.
Kentucky led 37-30 at halftime by outscoring the Vols 20-10 in the paint. Tennessee stayed within striking distance by getting to the line continually and putting Kentucky in foul trouble.
Tennessee made 12 of 16 free throws during the first half in which Kentucky committed 14 fouls, with Fulkerson drawing 10 of them. Reserve forward Nate Sestina already had three fouls and five other Kentucky players had two fouls each by halftime.
Kentucky owned a 10-point lead in the second half until a pair of 3-pointers by Vescovi got the Vols to within 51-47 with 9:12 left. Vescovi’s first 3-pointer came from well over 30 feet away with the shot clock expiring. His second came after Tennessee missed two 3-point attempts earlier in the possession, with Vescovi saving the ball from going out of bounds at one point.
The Wildcats were still clinging to a four-point lead when Nick Richards got fouled with 7:59 left. Richards made the first of two free throws and missed the second, but Juzang got the offensive rebound and scored to make it 56-49.
Tennessee was within five points again when Bowden missed a 3-pointer with 2:24 left. Kentucky outscored the Vols 11-3 the rest of the way.
Kentucky: The Wildcats committed so many fouls in the first half that someone was going to have to provide a spark off the bench. Juzang stepped up by making all four of his shots and scoring more than twice as many points as he ever had before. The freshman guard’s previous career high was six against Georgia on Jan. 21.
Tennessee: The Vols squandered a big chance to boost their postseason credentials as their hopes for a third straight NCAA Tournament bid fade. Tennessee entered the day 65th in the NET rankings, which are used as an evaluation tool in the NCAA Tournament selection process.
Kentucky is at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
Tennessee hosts Arkansas on Tuesday.