KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - J.P. Prince and his Tennessee teammates
watched No. 2 Kentucky erase a 19-point lead and knew they might
also be watching a shot at a second major upset slip away.
But, the Vols' senior leader wouldn't let that happen. With 90
seconds left, he scored on a broken play and added four clutch free
throws down the stretch to lift No. 19 Tennessee past the surging
Wildcats 74-65 on Saturday.
"That was a mature win," Prince said. "We had a big lead, let
them come back, but didn't panic."
No, in fact the Vols (21-7, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) seem to
be growing accustomed to knocking off the giants of college
basketball this year. Last month, they also handed top-ranked
Kansas its only loss.
The Wildcats (27-2, 12-2), who had won eight in a row since
their only other loss last month to South Carolina, had trailed by
19 early in the second half but managed to tie the game at 65 with
just over two minutes left.
"When they tied it up, I'm saying to myself, 'We worked too
hard,"' said Tennessee guard Bobby Maze. "We believed in
That's when Prince went to work, scoring six of his 20 points in
the final 90 seconds. Add in a 3-pointer by Scotty Hopson - his
only one in six attempts - and the Vols finished with nine straight
points to ice it. Hopson had 15.
"When I caught the ball, I just shot and I knew it was going to
go in from there," Hopson said.
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said that Kentucky provided plenty
of help in the upset. The Wildcats couldn't have been much colder
from long range, connecting on just two of 22 attempts,
contributing to season-worst 35 percent field goal shooting.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said, considering that, he was
surprised the game was as close as it was.
"You shoot two for 22 and it's 65-65? Wow," he said.
The Wildcats got their usual solid games from freshman
superstars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, but it wasn't enough.
Wall had 19 points, while Cousins added 15 points and 14
rebounds. Six of those points came on successive trips down the
court as he made two free throws, then scored on two straight
fastbreak dunks, both off passes from Wall. That tied the game at
65 before the Vols pulled away at the end.
"Every time we were down I was always thinking we were going to
win," Cousins said. "I just knew we had to make plays down the
This time, though, Tennessee always seemed to have an answer.
Tennessee missed its first six shots and was down 4-0 early, but
the Vols got back-to-back 3-pointers from Prince and Maze, igniting
an 18-0 run. Eight different Tennessee players scored during the
streak, including Skylar McBee on a closely-guarded 3.
Maze praised how his team spread the ball around and was
particularly complimentary of Hopson for the clutch late 3 off a
"He's growing up so fast," Maze said. "Scotty, he's hard on
himself, but I feel like if I make him take that shot, he'll make
Kentucky went more than five minutes without a point before Wall
added two free throws to make it 18-6. The Wildcats connected on
just two of 14 early shots from the floor - both by Cousins, who
opened the game by dunking an alley-oop pass from Darius Miller,
then grabbed an offensive rebound and heaved the follow through the
The much bigger Wildcats were outscored in the paint 42-36 and
barely won the rebounding game 40-36. Prince said the key was
showing that the Vols could go toe-to-toe with Kentucky.
"I knew that running with them was never a problem," he said.
"It's just rebounding is where they get up on people."
After a jumper by Cameron Tatum gave Tennessee its biggest lead
at 54-35, the Wildcats scored the next 11 points to cut it to
Wall got five of them on acrobatic layups on consecutive trips
down the floor. The first was particularly impressive, as he was
about to hit the deck after drawing a foul when he flipped the ball
through the hoop using just his outstretched palm. He added the
free throw to make it a three-point play.
The Wildcats have outperformed last year's NIT team in virtually
every way except one. That team knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville,
behind Jodie Meeks' UK-record 54 points.
"I think our team and our program was on display today," Pearl
Kentucky beat Tennessee in its previous matchup in Lexington,
when center Wayne Chism didn't start due to injury. Chism, who also
was slammed to the ground in the team's last game against Florida,
was relatively ineffective in this one, scoring just eight points
and missing all seven 3-point attempts.
Wall said he was disappointed the comeback attempt fell short
but said the stakes would be much higher next month in the NCAA
"Just imagine two weeks from now, if we lost this game, our
season's over with," he said.
No. 19 TENNESSEE 74, No. 2 KENTUCKY 65
Cousins 4-10 7-9 15, Patterson 4-6 2-4 10, Miller 3-9 0-0 7,
Wall 6-16 7-8 19, Bledsoe 3-10 2-2 9, Dodson 0-5 0-0 0, Harris 0-0
2-2 2, Orton 0-1 1-2 1, Liggins 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 21-60 21-27 65.
Chism 4-12 0-0 8, Williams 1-4 0-0 2, Maze 4-7 0-0 9, Prince
6-10 6-9 20, Hopson 6-14 2-3 15, McBee 1-1 0-0 3, Hall 0-1 1-2 1,
Goins 3-3 1-1 7, Pearl 0-0 0-0 0, Tatum 3-7 2-2 9. Totals 28-59
Halftime-Tennessee 40-29. 3-Point Goals-Kentucky 2-22 (Miller
1-5, Bledsoe 1-5, Patterson 0-1, Liggins 0-1, Orton 0-1, Wall 0-4,
Dodson 0-5), Tennessee 6-25 (Prince 2-4, McBee 1-1, Maze 1-3, Tatum
1-4, Hopson 1-6, Chism 0-7). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Kentucky 40
(Cousins 14), Tennessee 36 (Williams 7). Assists-Kentucky 8 (Wall
6), Tennessee 15 (Maze 5). Total Fouls-Kentucky 18, Tennessee 24.
Technicals-Dodson, Tatum. A-21,214. -21,214.
-- Kentucky falls to 27-2, 12-2 SEC on the season. Tennessee improves to 21-7, 9-5.
-- UK is 143-66 against the Volunteers and 51-47 against UT in Knoxville.
-- Kentucky will be in action again Wednesday in its final true road game of the season at Georgia. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. with the game being televised on the SEC Network.
Team game notes
-- The Wildcats used the starting combination of Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller, Patrick Patterson and John Wall for the 21st time this season. Kentucky is 19-1 with that starting five.
-- DeAndre Liggins was the first sub off the bench for Kentucky. It was Liggins’ eighth time this season to be the first Wildcat off the bench.
-- Kentucky extended its streak of game with a three-pointer to 740 games, the third longest streak in the country.
-- The Wildcats were held scoreless for over four minutes from the 16:47 mark to 11:22 mark in the first half.
-- Kentucky trailed (40-29) at the half for only the second time in league play this season. The 11-point deficit was UK’s largest halftime deficit this season.
-- UK shot a season low 24.1 percent (7-for-29) in the first half.
-- Kentucky trailed by 19 (54-35) at the 14:05 mark, its largest deficit of the season. The Wildcats then outscored the Vols 30-11 to tie the game at 65-65 at the 2:09 mark.
-- The Wildcats shot 9.1 percent (2-of-22) from three-point range, its lowest of the season and lowest since shooting 8.7 percent (2-of-23) against Miami in the 2009 season.
-- UK shot 77.8 percent from the free throw line (21-of-27), its highest percentage from the line since shooting 89.5 percent (17-of-19) against Drexel.
-- The Wildcats were outscored in the paint (42-36) for only the third time this season.
Individual game notes
#1 Darius Miller
-- Has hit a three-pointer in four straight games.
#11 John Wall
-- Finished with 19 points, six assists and five rebounds.
-- Moved to second on UK’s all-time freshman scoring list with 469 points.
-- Went 7-of-8 from the free throw line and is averaging 6.5 made free throws in last six games.
#15 DeMarcus Cousins
-- Broke the UK all-time freshman scoring record with 470 points.
-- Moved to second on UK’s freshman free throw list with 135.
-- Recorded his 18th double-double of the season.
-- Pulled down double-digit rebounds for the 19th time this season.
#24 Eric Bledsoe
-- Finished with five rebounds, the most since pulling down five boards at LSU.
#54 Patrick Patterson
-- Moved to within nine points of 18th on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,452 points.
-- Scored in double-digits for the fifth straight game and has done so in eight of the last nine games.