KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Halftime thoughts from Tennessee 40, Kentucky 29.
Clearly, Tennessee just needs to play home games against top-five teams and everything will be OK. The Volunteers handed Kansas its only loss of the season here in early January, and are halfway to handing Kentucky just its second defeat of the year. Yet another example that Bruce Pearl does his best work when he's an underdog.
Tennessee got a terrific first half from mercurial J.P. Prince. He scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, was active defensively and creased Kentucky's defense driving the ball on several occasions.
Tennessee also survived five three-point hoists from 6-foot-10 center Wayne Chism in the game's first ten minutes. He missed them all. Chism is a decent three-point shooter, so taking a couple (when open) is fine. Jacking them up indiscriminately should not be part of the Volunteers' game plan.
Speaking of being invited to shoot: John Wall's perimeter game continues to deconstruct. The Kentucky point guard was 1-for-8 in the first half and missed all three of his 3-point shots. Wall has made three of his last 22 3-pointers. At this rate, he'll be left open a lot from the perimeter in the coming weeks.
Kentucky is shooting just 24 percent from the field and 9 percent from 3-point range. Considering that, being down 11 isn't all that bad. If the Wildcats can find a stroke, this game could tighten up appreciably in the second half.