College Basketball Nation: Wildcats-Volunteers 022710

Rapid Reaction: Tennessee 74, Kentucky 65

February, 27, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Quick postgame thoughts from Tennessee 74, Kentucky 65:

  • Tennessee won't be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but it has now beaten half the probable field of No. 1s. First it was Kansas, now it's Kentucky. Both in Thompson-Boling Arena, both holding on late, both with the help of huge three-pointers from near the same spot on the court. Skylar McBee did the honors in the last minute against Kansas, Hopkinsville, Ky., native Scotty Hopson did it to the Wildcats.
  • Kentucky made 2-of-22 3-point shots. Every team in March will pack the paint against the Cats and make them prove they can hit jump shots. Kentucky had a nine-point edge at the foul line but was outscored 18-6 from 3-point range.
  • J.P. Prince played a tremendous game for the Volunteers, scoring a game-high 20 points. He made the go-ahead basket after Kentucky rallied from 19 points down to tie the score, then made the final four free throws to clinch it.
  • John Wall had 19 points and six assists, but also five turnovers and was 0-for-4 from 3-point range. He was great much of the game, but flawed for key stretches as well.

Tennessee leads Kentucky at halftime, 40-29

February, 27, 2010
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.

Kentucky-Tennessee preview

February, 27, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Here are some pregame storylines from Kentucky-Tennessee:

  • Kentucky coach John Calipari said winning an SEC title would mean "nothing," preferring to point toward the NCAA tournament. But Kentucky fans are aware a victory today over the rival Volunteers would clinch a share of the school's 44th league title. For all its domination of the league, Kentucky hasn't won an outright SEC title since 2005.
  • Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said in Saturday's Knoxville News-Sentinel, "We could have a good year without beating Kentucky, but we can't have a great year without beating Kentucky." So far this year, the Vols are 0-1 in that department. Last year they were 0-2. Last time they beat the Wildcats, they were ranked No. 1 and Kentucky was unranked, in 2008.
  • If Tennessee is going to win, it likely will need a full game from center Wayne Chism (who fouled out in just 15 minutes and banged his previously sore hip Tuesday in a loss to Florida) and a big game from guard Scotty Hopson. The sophomore was a McDonald's All-American out of Hopkinsville, Ky., and has all the athleticism to be a big-time player -- but he hasn't been very assertive going to the basket. Hopson shot only 59 free throws in 27 games, just four of them in the last three games.
  • Will Tennessee zone the Cats? It's been fairly standard operating procedure this season, testing their outside shooting. It hasn't worked often -- but Kentucky is on a cold streak from outside. UK has made just 10 of its last 51 3-point shots: 4-for-24 against Mississippi State; 3-for-16 against Vanderbilt; 3-for-11 against South Carolina.