The Tennessee Volunteers (10-11, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) make their annual trek north to Rupp Arena to take on the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (21-1, 7-0 SEC) in the two team’s 214th all-time meeting. The Cats are coming off an impressive 74-50 at LSU, while the Vols gained an SEC victory by besting Auburn, 64-49.
Kentucky will be looking to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 48 games,and continue John Calipari’s excellence when playing at home. Since the 2000 season, Coach Cal has posted a 201-19 record at his home venue, a .914 winning percentage.
Kentucky leads the all-time series with Tennessee, which began in 1910, by a count of 147-66, with the Cats winning seven of the last eight contests, including a tight 65-62 win in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 14. Since 2000, UK has come out on top of the Vols 21 times and lost six. Since 1990, Kentucky has won 38 times versus UT and lost 11.
In Lexington, UK holds an 85-16 advantage against the Vols (with an additional UK win coming in the 1993 SEC Tournament held at Rupp Arena). And when the Cats have been ranked No. 1 (Associated Press) UK holds a 9-1 edge against Tennessee. The Vols only win against a No. 1 Kentucky squad came in 1966 against the famed Rupp’s Runts, which is also the last time the two teams played with UK as the No. 1 team in the nation.
When UK plays at home as the No. 1 team in the country, it has posted a 64-2 all-time record.
Starting 7-0 in the SEC
UK’s 7-0 SEC start is the squad’s best since the 2005 team started the league slate 10-0. This year marks the 20th time Kentucky has started conference play 7-0, and of the previous 19 teams to start so quickly, 17 have gone on to win the SEC championship.
- With his 54 points against Tennessee in January of 2009, Jodie Meeks holds the Wildcat record for most points against UT. In that same game, Meeks connected on 10 3-pointers, giving him the UK long-distance record against the Vols.
- Mike Phillips owns the UK rebounding record against UT with 28 boards in January 1976.
- Former UK point guard Roger Harden dished out 12 assists against Tennessee in February of 1985, setting the UK high-water mark for dimes against the Vols.
- With seven steals against UT in March of 1993, Jared Prickett set the record for most pilfers against Tennessee.
- With five blocks apiece, John Pelphrey (January 1990), Nazr Mohammed (February 1998) and Perry Stevenson (January 2008) hold the UK record for most swats against the Volunteers.
- Melvin Turpin dropped in 18 field goals against Tennessee in January of 1983, setting the Kentucky made field goal record versus UT.
Kentucky in the SEC
In the 21 categories the SEC ranks each member school, Kentucky is on top of eight categories, second in three categories and third in five categories. Here’s a breakdown of each category, with the Cats’ ranking in parentheses:
Scoring: 78.2 (2)
Scoring defense: 58.5 (2)
Scoring margin: +19.7 (1)
Free throw percentage: 70.5 (3)
Field goal percentage: 48.3 (1)
Field goal percentage defense: 36.4 (1)
3-point percentage: 37.5 (3)
3-point percentage defense: 30.5 (3)
3-pointers made per game: 5.7 (8)
Total rebounds: 40.1 (1)
Opponent’s rebounds: 32.3 (2)
Blocks per game: 9.3 (1)
Assists per game: 13.3 (3)
Steals per game: 6.8 (7)
Turnover margin: +.82 (6)
Assist/turnover ratio: 1.1 (4)
Offensive rebound percentage: 39.1 (1)
Defensive rebound percentage: 69.2 (6)
Offensive rebounds per game: 13.0 (3)
Defensive rebounds per game: 27.1 (1)
Rebound margin: +7.8 (1)
Individual Wildcats in the SEC
Anthony Davis: No. 1 in field-goal percentage (64.2); No. 1 in blocks per game (4.6); No. 2 in rebounds per game (10.3); No. 2 in defensive rebounds per game (7.1); No. 4 in offensive rebounds per game (3.2); No. 6 in steals per game (1.5); No. 13 in scoring (13.3); No. 14 in free-throw percentage (68.3).
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: No. 7 in rebounds per game (7.6); No. 8 in offensive rebounds per game (2.7); No. 9 in defensive rebounds per game (5.0); No. 11 in free-throw percentage (74.5); No. 12 in blocks per game (1.1);
Terrence Jones: No. 6 in blocks per game (2.1); No. 12 in defensive rebounds per game (4.3); No. 13 in rebounds per game (6.5); tied at No. 14 in steals per game (1.3).
Doron Lamb: No. 4 in free-throw percentage (81.4); No. 11 in scoring (13.5).
Marquis Teague: No. 4 in assists per game (4.4); No. 9 in assist/turnover ratio (1.5).
Coach Cal on the Cats
On how much Tennessee has improved since the last time the two teams met …
”They’re better, all of them. They’re better. (Jarnell) Stokes is getting better, but they’re all better. (Jeronne) Maymon is physical, he’s good, he scores. (Their) guard play is good. (Skylar) McBee is really playing as well as he’s played since I’ve seen him. Their other guards are playing good; they’re a good team. The only team that really got them was Vanderbilt. Every other game they could have won. Vanderbilt made shots. If they make shots against us they’ll beat us the same way they beat them.”
On LSU coach Trent Johnson’s comment that if Terrence Jones continues to play well then UK should win the national championship …
”I don’t know if it’s that much, but let me just say this: We were all happy in the locker room. The team was ecstatic. It wasn’t just scoring, he was tough. He came up with balls. He posted physically strong even though the guy battled him. He battled back. The four jumps for the ball, we haven’t seen that all year. Well, that’s now what we’re all looking for. Everybody will be saying that if he’s capable of doing that then let’s do it every game. Now, it’s hard because they are not machines, they’re not computers, but it’s what you strive for. It’s what you prepare for.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET with television by ESPNU. Since it’s a rematch, there will be no Scouting Report for the UK-Tennessee game.