KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In front of the sellout Thompson-Boling Arena crowd, No. 7 Tennessee powered past No. 4 Kentucky, 71-52, to move into a two-way tie for first place in the SEC.
It was the largest loss for the Wildcats in conference play since Feb. 4, 2017, when they lost by 22 points to Florida.
Backed by a career-high performance from Bob Cousy Award candidate Jordan Bone, the Vols (26-3, 14-2 SEC) maintained a perfect home record against the Wildcats (24-5, 13-3 SEC) in the Rick Barnes era while extending their home winning streak to 25 games.
Bone scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting while knocking down all five of his attempts from behind the arc. He eclipsed his previous high on the final Tennessee shot of the game, hitting a 3-pointer falling away into the student section with 12 seconds left on the clock.
National Player of the Year candidate Grant Williams added 24 points to go along with a game-high seven rebounds. Combined, the duo tallied 52 points, shooting 18-of-28 (64.3 percent) from the field.
Tennessee held the Wildcats to a season-low 52 points and 31.8 percent shooting from the field while limiting them to just 10 points in the paint, outscoring Kentucky by 18 points on the block. It was the fewest points scored by a Kentucky team since March, 13, 2013, and tied the second fewest points it has scored in the John Calipari era.
Within the first four minutes of the second half, Tennessee stretched its 13-point halftime lead to 20 points, getting to the rim on four of its first five field goals. The 10-4 run was capped by a fastbreak up-and-under finish from Lamonte Turner to push it to a 47-27 edge with 16:17 left in the game.
It was the largest lead of the game for UT, and from that point forward, it held a double-digit lead through the rest of the game. In the second half, Kentucky only came within 13 points of Tennessee, as PJ Washington was the only Wildcat player to score in double figures. Washington also had four turnovers in the game as Kentucky’s 17 turnovers in the game were its most in SEC play this season.
Turner finished with a team-high six assists, with five coming in the final 20 minutes of the game.
After trailing 6-0 to start the game, Tennessee, led by seven points from Bone, went on an 11-1 run to put the Vols in front by four at the 14:06 mark of the first half.
UT had the edge the rest of the first half, as it limited Kentucky to just 15.3 percent shooting (4-of-26) in the final 18 minutes of the half. The Vols defense helped them push the lead out to as many as 14 points in the first half.
After the game sat at 23-18 for nearly three minutes, Admiral Schofield got the ball in the left corner. Schofield drove baseline before elevating, throwing down a one-handed slam over Kentucky’s Nick Richards.
On the very next possession with Williams as the last player up the court, the ball found him at the top of the key. He stepped into a three and knocked it down to give Tennessee a 28-18 lead with 4:03 left in the first.
Bone and Williams both ended the half in double figures. Bone led the way with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Williams chipped in 11 points, including eight from the free throw line. Behind their 23 combined points, Tennessee took a 37-24 advantage into the halftime break.
Home Streak: Saturday’s victory extends Tennessee’s home win streak to 25 games, which dates to last season and is the second-longest in the nation. It also marks the Vols’ fourth consecutive home win over Kentucky, making head coach Rick Barnes a perfect 4-0 against the Wildcats in Knoxville.
The Big Orange is also 10-0 in regular-season SEC rematch games, dating to the start of last season.
Jordan Bone Dominates UK: With point guard Jordan Bone’s career-high of 27 points, he has averaged 23 points against the Wildcats this season and has led the team in points in both contests this year. The junior also has an average of 4.5 assists per game against UK.
Defense Wins Games: Due to some solid defense on Tennessee’s part, this 19-point loss for Kentucky is its worst SEC loss since Feb. 4, 2017, when it lost to Florida by a margin of 22 points.
Tennessee also stopped Kentucky’s top-three scorers, holding freshman Keldon Johnson (13.6 ppg), freshman Tyler Herro (14.2 ppg) and sophomore PJ Washington (15 ppg) to just 26 points combined. The trio came in averaging 42.8 per game.
Scoring Drought: The Vols held Kentucky without a field goal for 9:32 in the first half, with UK missing 12 field goals during that span. At the start of the scoring drought, the score was 17-16 in favor of UT, and when the Wildcats ended the drought, Tennessee extended its lead to 34-21.
It’s Hard to Score Against UT: Tennessee held Kentucky to its fewest points in a game this season with 52. The previous lowest was 56 points against Vanderbilt on Jan. 12. It also marked the lowest field-goal percentage of the year for the Wildcats, shooting just 31.8 percent. The previous low for Kentucky was against Kansas with a 39.1 shooting percentage.
First Half Woes for the Cats: UT’s defense clamped down on Wildcats in the first 20 minutes, holding them to just 24 points, their lowest of the season. The Wildcats’ previous low was 28 against Vanderbilt (1/12) and Arkansas (2/26). The Big Orange also held Kentucky to a 23 percent field-goal percentage, 6-for-26 from the field.
Up Next: Tennessee plays its final home game of the season in Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday night against Mississippi State. The Vols will honor Kyle Alexander, Lucas Campbell, Admiral Schofield and Brad Woodson as a part of Senior Night. Tipoff versus the Bulldogs is set for 9 p.m. ET on SEC Network.