LEXINGTON, Ky. (WATE) — Despite a Santiago Vescovi, Kennedy Chandler and Josiah-Jordan James combining for 48 points Saturday, the No. 22 Tennessee Vols could not come close to the hot-shooting No. 18 Kentucky in a 107-79 loss.
The loss marked the first time that a Tennessee team has given up more than 100 points in 15 years.
Olivier Nkamhoua opened the scoring for the Vols with a jump shot, but Kentucky answered on their second possession with a jumper by TyTy Washington Jr. to even the score at 2.
John Fulkerson tried for Tennessee’s second bucket greeted by resounding boos from fans who blanketed Rupp Arena in blue but missed. Kentucky grabbed the rebound and turned it into two to take an early lead, 4-2. Chandler answered with a three-pointer to give Tennessee its lone lead of the first half, 5-4.
Kentucky in return went on a 10-0 run fueled by back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a 14-5 lead.
Tennessee struggled to defend the dribble, allowing the Wildcats to penetrate inside scoring 24 points in the paint.
With 12 minutes left in the first half Kentucky-native Justin Powell scored a 3-pointer on his first shot of the game to pull the Vols within five, 30-25. But Kentucky pulled away on a 22-16 run lead by Washington to put Tennessee in a 14-point hole by the break, 52-38.
Tennessee who ranked No. 2 in the county in adjusted defense efficiency allowed 52 points in the first half for only the second time this season.
Kentucky continued to put on a shooting clinic in the second half. The Wildcats extend their lead to 56-38 before Chandler hit a 3-pointer for the Vols. But every Vols basket was answered by one from Kentucky. The Wildcast strung together a 12-0 run to make it 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 resulting in 32 points for the Wildcats. The Vols are 9-0 this season when outrebounding 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 beyond the arc in one of their best shooting performances of the season. Vescovi finished with 20 points for Tennessee. Chandler had 17 points. James had 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 and 4-1 in SEC play.