Tennesse defeated Kentucky 61-59 in Rupp Arena.

Game notes 

From UK Athletics

ATTENDANCE: 23,332

Final Score: #15/14 Tennessee 61, #24/24 Kentucky 59

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 17-7 overall and 6-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee is 18-5, 8-3 in league play.
  • Kentucky leads the series 153-71, including 92-17 in Lexington.
  • Next for the Wildcats: Kentucky plays Saturday at Texas A&M. Game time is 8:15 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST in College Station) and it will be televised by ESPN.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the 10th time this season. UK is 6-4 with this lineup.
  • Kentucky extended its streak of 1,037 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Quade Green connected with 16:10 on the clock.
    • It was UK’s only field goal of the first nine minutes of the game, but made foul shots and energetic defense kept the Wildcats in the contest.
  • UK’s next basket also was a 3-pointer by Green and puts the Cats ahead 11-9 at the 10:46 mark.
  • UK’s first two-point field goal of the game was a dunk by Vanderbilt with 5:09 on the clock.
    • After making just two of the first 14 shots, Vanderbilt’s dunk began a streak of four straight made field goals.
  • Tennessee got hot late in the half and went to intermission ahead 27-26.
  • Green led the Wildcats with 10 points, the fourth time this season he has been at double figures in the first half.
  • UK is 6-5 this season when behind or tied at halftime. This was UK’s fourth straight game to trail at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • Tied at 46, Tennessee went on a 4-0 run to lead 50-46.
    • It was the only time in the entire game that either team led by more than three points.
  • Kentucky responded with a 7-0 run, capped by a Knox steal and driving basket-and-one, to put the Cats back ahead 53-50.
  • Tied at 56, Gilgeous-Alexander worked his way into the lane and swished a jumper with 1:28 left.
  • Tennessee came back with a 3-pointer by Lamonte Turner and a breakaway dunk by Admiral Schofield to go ahead 61-58.
  • Tennessee fouled with 1.3 seconds left. Gilgeous-Alexander made the first but Tennessee claimed the rebound on the second to hold on to the 61-59 win.

Team Notes

  • UK is now 3-2 this season in games decided by three points or less.
  • Tennessee shot 23.8 percent from three-point range today, 5 of 21.  UK entered the game third in the nation in 3-point defense at 28.9 percent.
  • UK is 42-10 in “bounce back” games (following losses) under Coach John Calipari.
  • UK is 51-25 under Calipari in games vs. opponents in The Associated Press top 25.
  • Kentucky is 150-6 under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 63 or fewer points.
    • UK had not lost when holding the opponent to 63 or less since the 2014 NCAA championship game vs. Connecticut.
    • Over the last four seasons, the Wildcats had won 60 in a row when keeping the opponent to 63 or less.

Player Notes

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander totaled 15 points, six rebounds and six assists.
    • Alexander has averaged 20 points over the last three games.
    • His six rebounds is one shy of his career high.
    • It is the ninth time this season he has had at least six assists, including the fourth time in the last six games.
    • It is the third time this season he has played 39 minutes in a game.
  • Quade Green had his best game since returning from injury six games ago. He tallied 15 points tonight, his most since getting 15 vs. Georgia on Dec. 31.
  • Kevin Knox had 10 points, his 18th double-figure game of the season.
  • Nick Richards had five points and led the Wildcats in rebounding with eight.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 711-200 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 266-60 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 147-8 at Rupp Arena.
  • Calipari is 14-94 vs. Tennessee in his career.

Postgame interviews

John Calipari 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Quade Green

Rick Barnes

Box Score

Season Stats 

Quotes

John Calipari

JOHN CALIPARI: I made mistakes at the end and cost them (the players) the game. But I should have called a timeout. I don’t ever like to in those situations, but this is a different team. This team is too young. They’re just too young to know what’s there and if they get in trouble, just call a timeout. This team fought, we made a couple errors, a couple plays that I’ll have to go look on tape, but they just kept making foul shots, foul shots, foul shots, foul shots to keep them in it. Then the kid makes the three at the top, but then we still have the ball down one. Again, 17 seconds, I wanted to see — should have called a timeout. This one’s on me. It’s not on this team. This team did everything they could to try to win the game.

Q. Put aside the team’s ability to put aside (Tai) Wynyard’s being suspended, talk about that maturity and able to put that to the side and play this game.
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but go ahead.

Q. About not calling the timeout:
JOHN CALIPARI: Here’s what happens. We play the game against Vandy, you see I did not call a timeout, you get a layup. Usually they’re going to miss — the defense is going to panic. It’s a one-point game. What are they saying? Don’t. And if he could get by somebody he was going to get a layup, because they weren’t going to foul him. That’s why I usually don’t (call a timeout at the end of games). But this is such a young team and I could see with they crowded the court and they were being physical, pushing guys around and into each other. I should have called a timeout. At least 10, 12 seconds to go I should have seen it. When I saw it I kind of let it go hoping he would make it — you can’t hope, not with these kids. And let me give Tennessee credit now. They came into this building, were up on us a little bit, it was a touch and go game the whole way. We get up, it looks like this thing’s ours, and they don’t stop. So give them credit. I’m saying that the chance that we had to win the game fell to me and I let it go. So this isn’t anything about any of these guys. We had some guys not play great defensively, but they played well enough, we fought, we did some good stuff, we still had some turnovers that were unnecessary, but we’re on the right track now. If this is who we are, I’m feeling good. If you notice, we went to a little more grind it out basketball because of who we are. And that was a good defensive team and a good offensive team and we did — like I said, other than them making just about every free throw down the stretch, we did what we were supposed to.

Q. You guys got out on the outlet pass quickly, you looking to beat the Vols down the floor and also the lob was there tonight. Would you please discuss that.
JOHN CALIPARI: Well we’re trying to play fast. If we rebound the ball or steal it, we’re going. The question becomes if they score on us or the ball bops out of bounds or they’re back there because we fumbled or did something, then we need to grind it out a little bit. We need to have everybody touching the ball, we need to get more people involved in how we’re playing offensively. And I think we did that today. But again, against a really good defensive or offensive team, they shoot 42 percent, 23 from the three, and have 13 turnovers. That’s, with us being this inexperienced and doing that, it’s pretty good. Offensively, I thought we did some good stuff, we still have a ways to go.

Q. Hami (Diallo) played only 13 minutes tonight, four in the second half. You and (Tony) Barbee seemed to be talking to him quite a bit on the bench. What’s going on with him?
JOHN CALIPARI: He just wasn’t engaged defensively. He just, he was breaking down defensively, so — look, these kids aren’t machines and they’re not robots, they make mistakes, they have bad games, and then, OK, come back next week, we play this weekend, play this weekend, do it. But I just, I didn’t play Sacha (Killeya-Jones) as much. Sacha has a hard time with (Grant) Williams. He had a hard time up in Tennessee with Williams. And we put Jarrod (Vanderbilt) on Williams and he did pretty good. So now you had Jarred and P.J. (Washington) both playing him well. And I thought Nick (Richards) did some good stuff, Nick rebounded the ball, did some good stuff that way.

Q. Can you comment at all on Tai’s (Wynyard) suspension and this report that he was at a party with —
JOHN CALIPARI: He was, he was, he violated team rules. He has — the back, he is out because of a back, but he’s now been suspended because of violating team rules and that’s all I’ll say.

Q. How well do you think your guys can look at the good side of this, the competing, the going right down to the end?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we’ll see, but again, we had some spells that were so bad, like what? Are you? Why did you? What? And that’s what young kids do. Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) played 39 minutes and Kevin Knox played 37. It’s too many minutes. Probably hurt us in the end. But you know what, we’re trying to win the game. And if someone is going in for them and breaking down or — but again, I’m looking at this saying, you know what, we’re better. Quade (Green) was really good today, did some good stuff. The last play he gave that kid that three with his hands down. But again, he made baskets, he got to the rim. He made, he got guys involved. He was good. It looked like we were in control of stuff with him and Shai out there.

Q. On Quade, the first half you were really struggling to score and without him you had no offense what was he doing that other guys weren’t doing?
JOHN CALIPARI: Made shots. You know what, it’s funny when the ball goes in it looks pretty good. Your offense looks better. We got some guys that are struggling and to make shots and a 3-for-14 from the three is not going to get it done. You’re not going to — you know, in a game like this — now they only made 5-of-21. But those two threes, if we make those, we win in pretty good fashion. So he was making them and the rest of the guys weren’t.

Q. Have you stressed to Quade lately to take the ball to the basket more instead of just settling for the threes?
JOHN CALIPARI: We want him to play away from the ball because of his size. If he’s crowded he’s not the same guy. But if he’s away from the ball, give it up, get it back and make plays away. Or for to us drive and get him shots. And then he’s crafty with the ball. If you do stop him and he’s got space, he can get in the lane. And that little jumper he missed I thought it was down, because he usually makes that. I mean, again, they did what they had to, they made their free throws, they made that big three, and we missed some shots that we needed to have go down.

Q. I think for three of the four halves y’all played Tennessee this season, Grant Williams has looked like a different player than he has all season. What have you been able to do against him this season that others haven’t?
JOHN CALIPARI: P.J. is a good matchup and now Jarred. We don’t have any other real good matchups for him but those two are. He’s a terrific player. He’s got to be one of the Player of the Year candidates, in my opinion.

Q. Kevin Knox, second game where he looks like he has a hard time finding shots. How much is that on the defense or how much of that is on him?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well he took more shots than anybody on the team.

Q. Were they good shots or poor shots?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well I would like him to go to the rim more. I would like him to get in there and get fouled more. The play he made, the and-one, I would like to see a bunch of those. When the court is crowded he struggles a little bit with that, so maybe we got to do some things to make the court more open for him. But, again, guys, for some of the guys, it’s as much defense that I worry about. You guys will all look at this offense, but if a guy’s breaking down and killing us on defense, the offense, now you break down on offense and you are breaking down on defense, you’re really killing us. So we got to just sure up some of the small mistakes we’re making. But again, we gave ourselves a chance to win. That ball, he makes that three, it’s a one-point game. That game was in my hands to do something with and I dropped the ball. It’s not these guys. These kids did what they were supposed to. That was a hard-fought game against a team that’s winning five games in a row, now six. We’re struggling a little bit and we come out and have that kind of effort? Proud of these kids.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

#4, Nick Richards, Fr.

On why this loss is harder than others…

“It’s tougher for us because we actually played our hardest and it’s at home. You can’t really lose games at home it’s heartbreaking.”

On what made differences down the stretch…

“They made stops and we didn’t. That’s how it basically happened.”

On the feeling in the locker room after the game…    

“Coach talked about what we did wrong in the end. Guys were still trying to figure out what we were doing wrong. It was really quiet in there; this game really hurt us to be honest.  It was just a learning lesson we just have to move forward on and get ready for the next game.”

On preparing

“It’s just another game…just another learning process. Coach always tells us ‘it’s either you win or you learn’ so were just going to take this game as a learning opportunity, forget about it and get ready for Texas A&M this weekend.”

On what they did well to have a chance to win this game… 

“We fought. Guys were making shots. We played good defense throughout the entire game but we couldn’t find enough energy to get enough stops in the end. They made the shots and we didn’t make the shots, that was the result so we took the L.”

On the plan of action for the rest of this tough schedule

“Regroup as a team, get ready for practice. Of course, we have an off day tomorrow but were not taking this as a loss were taking this as a learning process.”

#22, Shea Gilgeous-Alexander, Fr.

On the impact of the negative turn of events in the final minute of play…

“It’s obviously tough. Heartbreaking. But I’ll watch film and try to be better for the next game.”

On whether he felt Coach Calipari was pleased with the team’s effort…

“Yeah, he wasn’t too disappointed. Like you said, he took ownership of it at the end. But, we’re just going to try to move forward and learn from this.”

On his energy in the first half…

“I was just ready to play. Everybody was ready to play, we just couldn’t make any shots again. So we got to get back in the gym and start shooting more.”

On if they should have called a timeout on last possession…

“We all took the blame for it too. We had a few possessions, we could had a rebound, could have got a stop, we didn’t do it as players. So not just the coach, we take the blame too. I take the blame on my behalf too.”

On tough stretch of games coming up…

“Yeah this was a tough game to lose at home too. Then losing to them twice so hopefully we see them again in the tournament.”

#0, Quade Green, Fr. 

On his energy in the first half…

“I was just ready to play. Everybody was ready to play, we just couldn’t make any shots again. So we got to get back in the gym and start shooting more.”

On if they should have called a timeout on last possession…

“We all took the blame for it too. We had a few possessions, we could had a rebound, could have got a stop, we didn’t do it as players. So not just the coach, we take the blame too. I take the blame on my behalf too.”

On tough stretch of games coming up…

“Yeah this was a tough game to lose at home too. Then losing to them twice so hopefully we see them again in the tournament.”

Tennessee Player and Coach Quotes

Head Coach Rick Barnes

On what made the difference down the stretch …
“Well, I thought both teams – it was a hard-fought, physical game. I think when two teams are locked in like that, I think scoring is hard to come by. We just kept talking about it – if we could just stay with it defensively and I thought they did exploit us a few times with the ball screen there in the last few minutes. We finally, the last two possessions, did a better job with it. Offense, we were playing. We felt like we had different options. Grant Williams getting fouled, making two free throws. (Jordan) Bowden’s play was big, driving to the middle and made a play. Obviously, Lamonte Turner’s 3 was a huge shot. But, we stayed in it and we were able to get it at the end.”

On Lamonte Turner …
“Well, he’s not afraid to take the shot there. For a guy who puts as much time in he should have confidence. He normally, when he tries to much to force it he’s not at his best. But, when he lets it come to him in that situation. He’s done that going back to the Purdue game. He’s done that from the corner. He has the confidence, and I think his teammates have the confidence in him. I thought he got a little tired. He was involved in those ball screens. (Hamidou) Diallo was getting down in the lane on him. He was laying on the screen a little bit. He’s a competitor. He fought through that fatigue. Again, he’s not afraid to take the shot.”

On his team’s mental toughness …
“They had a lot to do with that, obviously (frustrating them offensively). We just feel like if we can play defense it takes pressure off of our offense. Again, I think they came in knowing it was going to be this kind of basketball game. I do think our team is getting better at trying to understand through scouting. The assistant coaches get all of the credit for that. Those guys do a terrific job. As a group, I think our guys they look at each other and they believe in each other. We just kept talking about it, ‘Let’s stay with it defensively. Rebound the ball and we’ll find something to get done on the other end.’ I thought tonight was an example. We didn’t know who or where it was going to come from. We didn’t. But I think (Jordan) Bowden had 11 points in the second half. His were big. I thought a big play was the offensive rebound he got. That was a big one. The ball was tipping around down there and he came down with it. You can also feel some momentum building for them, so that was a big play. We did turn it over. Our guards turned it over a couple of times in the last couple of minutes. We were able to overcome that. It’s a team win, but that’s how we’ve done it all year. Everybody knows and talks about what Grant  (Williams) does. As much as we do play through him, we’re not afraid to go the other way and let other guys do some things too.”

On not focusing on playing through Williams tonight …
“We knew they were going to come at him hard. We knew that. I mean, they trapped him a couple of times out there at the 3-point line. We were actually trying to set up there at the end – trying to invite the trap. (We were) trying to get a two-on-one on the backside. It never happened. Again, we’re not surprised. I think this time of year we knew they would go at him on the defensive end, which they did. We knew he was going to get double-teamed. We felt certain about that.”

On Coach Cal not calling timeout…

“Again, one, he’s got a really young basketball team. I think you’re hoping the flow will take care of it whereas if you call to timeout – I was sitting there looking at my coaches, like we had the ball there at the end, should we call a timeout? Should we call a timeout? And I was about to and my coaches called me off. I felt like we were doing the same thing and we were forcing to make a shot. He’s a great basketball coach and I’m sure he’s taken some of that to takeaway from his guys. He’s a terrific coach. We were concerned about – we knew we were going to foul. Everybody thinks that’s a really easy thing to do. I’ve been in games where there’s so many factors when you do it. One, where the officials call it on the catch or in the act, because you know they’re going to get into the act of shooting. Then you gotta deal with the free throw block out in that situation. But we made up our mind right there that we were going to foul right when he crossed half court and we were fortunate to win the second one and we were able to get control of it. Again, I understand Cal saying that, I do. Believe me, he’s made a lot more right decisions than wrong, I can tell you that.”

On the SEC being competitive and the gap between teams…

“I don’t think it is a big gap. I don’t think it is. I mean you look at it – this is the best basketball league in the country and I don’t know why people don’t want to own up to that. In one week you can go from first to last, somewhere in between, from 10 to four probably, because everyone is so bunched up. If it keeps going like it is right now, this team should have nine teams in the NCAA Tournament. It’s going to shake out somewhere down the line. This is as competitive as any league I’ve ever coached in. I don’t know what the other games – how they played out tonight – you look at all of them and their one or two possession games.”

On a scale of 1-10 how much more confident UT is…

“We’re a totally different team. We’re totally different. We haven’t been able to play defense at all for two years prior to this year. We maybe could play a game at home where we could win with some emotion. Emotion’s not going to win for you all the time. It’ll win for you some. We knew coming into this year that we had to totally change. We had a bunch of guys coming back a year ago where we started harping on it but we made a commitment that that’s what we were going to do. We’re a totally different defensive team and much much better. You go back to two years ago on the offensive end – Kevin Punter actually in this game two years ago that he had a stress fracture that had been brewing for a couple weeks and we didn’t know it. He was done after the game here. Robert Hubbs had to have his knee drained twice in the last three weeks last year. We couldn’t overcome either one of those guys. This year, we felt like the depth we had to develop – so not only are we talking about the defensive end, we feel the same thing on the offensive end that we’re going to play guys and we believe if we go to the bench those guys are going to help us. We’re a totally different team then we were the last two years in the league overall.

On what UT did against Kevin Knox…

“What we tried to do as much – we don’t want to lose our aggressiveness in the backcourt and the biggest thing we tried to adjust, we normally stay with that 94 feet, but when the ball crossed half court, we wanted to backup to the NBA three point line and not give them space where they could get the court opened up on us. We were concerned about them getting out and running on us. We don’t switch a lot. The biggest thing is we were trying to take space away from their post players and space away from their guys they wanted to play through.

 

#5, Admiral Schofield, Jr., F

On what this win means to the program since they haven’t won at Rupp since 2006…

“It’s big. It’s just a testament to the work we put in. Like I’ve been saying before, we have very a tough team. It’s an ugly game both ways, for both teams. Pretty low scoring game, but we fought until the end and Lamonte hit a big shot, which he’s capable of doing just like anyone else on our team. It wasn’t falling for me and it wasn’t falling for a lot of guys. As a team we got it done and that’s the biggest thing for us. We play team ball all year and it’s a testament to what happened tonight.”

On how much confidence the team has in Lamonte taking those late game shots…

“I tell coach all the time to put him in late game. He’s the most clutch guy I’ve been around. He’s a big time shooter in my book. He puts the work in, he really does. Just like I’ve been in the gym, he’s been right there with me. I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him he deserves everything he’s got. The biggest thing is that Tennessee beat Kentucky tonight and that was our goal coming in here and we got it done.”

On if the players recognize the milestone of them winning at Rupp tonight…

“You know what, it is a big deal. We knew that coming in that we haven’t won here since 2006. I didn’t know that we haven’t won here more than 10 times; you can count that on your finger. The biggest thing for us is one game at a time. I feel like the hype around this game was bigger then what we made it as a team. For us it was just another stepping stone on our way to what we’re trying to do. Not to discredit their team they are a great team, very talented. Biggest thing for us is we’re just trying to move up and get out respect in the country and the league. We made a big step towards that tonight, but it doesn’t stop here. We cant be complacent, got to keep pushing.”

#23, Jordan Bowden, Jr., G 

On growing up in Tennessee and getting a win in Rupp Arena …

“It’s pretty big. We haven’t won here since 2006 or something like that. It was big for us. We wanted to come in and compete and do what we do. We got the win.”

On the final minute of play …

“At the end, our coach challenged us to stop the pick and roll defense in the last two minutes. I think we executed on that very well, and we got it done. We just executed at the end at the right time. It really played off.”

On change from past years …

“I feel like we’re finishing out games better this year and we’re doing a good job with that. We just got to keep getting better and being consistent on the defensive end.”

On playing Kentucky two times this season …

“They’re a good team. When they’re hitting shots, they’re hard to beat. They have a lot of great freshmen and great talented guys. We came out and executed and got the win.”

On finding other options besides Grant Williams …

“They were double teaming Grant, but we have scorers all over the court. So, it’s not just Grant, but he was doing what we had to do. Him getting out of the trap and just making adjustments.”

On his shot at the end of the game …

“I was really trying to get it to Grant, but my man was playing a pass, so I had a drive to the middle and got a jump shot.”

On Lamonte Turner’s three at the end of the game …

“He can make those type of plays, and Coach knows he can make those type of plays. Those are shots he works on in practice. It was a big time shot in this game.”

On Kentucky and the rest of the SEC …

“I’m not really paying attention to Kentucky. We’re just worried about us and what we got to do game by game. We’re not worried about anybody else.”

On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander …

“He was just beating us off the dribble. I actually played against him in high school. He’s always been a good floor general and knows how to make passes out of them without turnovers and stuff.”

 

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