(from UK Athletics/SEC Digital)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Santiago Vescovi scored 18 points and Chandler Kennedy added 17 to lead No. 16 Tennessee to a 76-63 victory over No. 4 Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Zakai Zeigler and John Fulkerson each added 14 points as the Volunteers (19-6, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) ran their home record to 14-0 this season with their eighth straight SEC victory.
“What it appeared to me is they needed it more, wanted it more, they were more physical, took us out of stuff physically and then banged us around offensively, too,” said UK coach John Calipari. “They deserved to win.”
Kentucky guard Tyty Washington, injured in the second half of the homecourt win over Florida, played briefly but may have aggravated the damaged knee and left the game early in the second half. “If I had to do it again i wouldn’t have played Tyty.” Calipari said. “He said, ‘I can do this.’ I should have gone with my gut.”
Oscar Tshiebwe led the Wildcats (21-5, 10-3) with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Jacob Toppin and Davion Mintz each added 11.
“We weren’t where we were supposed to be,” Toppin said of the first-half run Tennessee made that put the Volunteers in control for much of the night. “There’s no way we should have let them go on a 17-1 run. We’ll learn from it, go back and watch film and get better. We don’t have an excuse. you live with it and move on.”
Calipari said he told his players they had to own their performance. “You can’t let anybody alibi,” he said he told them. “We got manhandled.”
Tennessee led by 14 at halftime. Kentucky cut the difference to eight midway through the second half. That’s when the Vols went on a 12-0 run, holding Kentucky scoreless for nearly five minutes.
It was a heated atmosphere from the start. More than 20,000 fans crammed into Thompson Boling Arena for the game in which three technical fouls were called in the first seven 7 minutes.
Next up for the Wildcats is a home date Saturday with Alabama. Toppin said they intend to apply the lessons then what they learned on Rocky Top Tuesday night.
“A hundred percent,” he said. “We said that in the locker room after the game. We needed this. It was a wakeup call and we’re gonna dial back in and go back to dominating the game the way we have.”