#16 Tennessee (18-6 | 9-3 SEC) vs. #4 Kentucky (21-4 | 10-2 SEC)
Tuesday, February 15th, 2022 | 8:00pm CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: ESPN
Knoxville, TN – The 16th-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team is back in action inside Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday night, taking on the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats at 8:00pm CT.
Fans can catch Tuesday’s game on ESPN and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Karl Ravech (play-by-play), Jimmy Dykes (analysis), and Marty Smith (reporter) will have the call.
Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp calling the action. The broadcast is also available on channel 81 on Sirius, SiriusXM and the SiriusXM app.
Tennessee (18-6, 9-3 SEC) is coming off its seventh consecutive SEC win, downing Vanderbilt on Saturday, 73-64. The Vols had four players reach double figures, as SEC Sixth Man of the Year candidate Zakai Zeigler notched a team-high 16 points, Josiah-Jordan James tallied 14, John Fulkerson had 12 and Santiago Vescovi scored 10.
With Saturday’s win, Tennessee improved to 13-0 at home this season. Dating to last season, the Vols have won 14 straight inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tuesday marks the second regular season meeting between Tennessee and Kentucky this season. Since 2018, Rick Barnes and his staff have guided the Volunteers to a 17-5 record in regular-season rematch games (SEC Tournament games not included). Overall, the Vols have won six of their last 11 games vs. Kentucky.
Tennessee trails the all-time series with Kentucky, 158-75, dating to 1910.
The Wildcats have a 54-51 edge when the series is played in Knoxville, but Tennessee has won four of the last six meetings at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Overall, the Vols have won six of their last 11 games vs. Kentucky.
Vols sophomore Justin Powell is a native of Prospect, Kentucky, and a graduate of North Oldham High School in Goshen.
Several veteran Vols played against Kentucky guard Kellan Grady during his days at Davidson; the Vols face Davidson annually in a closed preseason scrimmage in Knoxville.
Kentucky is one of only four SEC teams to out-rebound the Vols this season. See “Last Meeting” note below for a full recap of last month’s meeting.
Layup Lines – Team
For the second time during the Rick Barnes era, Tennessee is riding a streak of at least seven straight wins over SEC opponents.
Tennessee stands at No. 10 in the NCAA’s latest NET ratings. Each of UT’s six losses are Quad 1.
Tennessee joins Kentucky and Auburn as the only three SEC teams that have no losses outside Quadrant 1 this season.
Tennessee ranks fifth nationally in average home attendance (17,400) and is riding a 14-game win streak at Thompson-Boling Arena dating to last season’s loss to Kentucky on Feb. 20th, 2021.
The Vols have won the rebounding battle in each of their six SEC home games this season.
According to KenPom, the Vols rank sixth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 87.9 points per 100 possessions.
Tennessee averages an SEC-best 16.0 assists per game during league play (192 assists on 293 FGs).
Layup Lines – Players
During UT’s four-game win streak, Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler combine to account for 49 percent of the team’s scoring and 53 percent of the team’s steals while shooting .452 from 3-point range (19 of 42) and .889 from the free-throw line (32 of 36).
James’ 66 points over the last four games (16.5 ppg) mark the best four-game stretch of his career.
All-SEC candidate Santiago Vescovi is the league’s top 3-point shooter during SEC play, hitting at a .457 clip from long range
Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and Bob Cousy Award candidate Kennedy Chandler’s 2.35 steals per game rank 12th in Division I and second nationally among true freshmen.
Vescovi (20), Chandler (17), and James (11) scored 48 of Tennessee’s 79 points during the Vols’ lopsided loss at Kentucky last month. The trio made nine of UT’s 11 made 3-pointers in that game.
About The Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky (21-4, 10-2 SEC) enters Tuesday’s matchup on a six-game win streak and sits in second place in the SEC standings.
Kentucky has five Quadrant 1 wins this season, including two wins over teams ranked in the top 10 of the NET rankings—Tennessee and Kansas.
The Wildcats are 5-3 in true road games this season, having lost at Notre Dame, LSU and Auburn, but gaining notable wins at Kansas and Alabama.
Tshiebwe is coming off a 27-point, 19-rebound game on Saturday against Florida.
Largely in part to Tshiebwe’s efforts, Kentucky ranks seventh in the nation and first in the SEC in rebounding as a team with 41.2 per game.
Kentucky also ranks ninth in the nation and leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (49.1 percent). The Wildcats shot 67.9 percent from the field in the Jan. 15 game against Tennessee.
Junior guard Sahvir Wheeler, a transfer from Georgia, is averaging 9.7 points and a team-high 7.2 assists per game this season. Wheeler’s 7.2 assists per game lead the SEC and rank third in the nation.
Kentucky’s second-leading scorer and assist-maker, freshman TyTy Washington Jr., left the Wildcats’ game against Florida on Saturday due to injury and did not return.
According to KenPom.com, Kentucky is ranked fourth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Last Meeting With Kentucky
No. 22 Tennessee fell to No. 18 Kentucky, 107-79, at Rupp Arena on January 15th, 2022.
Kentucky shot 68 percent from the field for the game and made 38 field goals—both stand as Barnes-era highs for a Tennessee opponent (2015-present).
Despite defensive deficiencies, Tennessee shot 53 percent from the floor. Santiago Vescovi led the Vols with 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while Kennedy Chandler had 17. Josiah-Jordan James and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield also scored in double figures with 11 points apiece.
After Kentucky shot 79 percent from the field during the first half and entered the halftime break with a 52-38 lead, the Wildcats again came out hot in the second half—outscoring Tennessee 29-12 in the first eight minutes of the second period.
TyTy Washington led the Wildcats with 28 points on 10-for-13 shooting.
Tennessee took an early 5-4 lead, but Kentucky quickly responded with a 10-0 run and never surrendered the lead for the remainder of the contest. Tennessee’s deficit was limited to single digits until the last two minutes of the first half, when Kentucky extended its lead to as many as 16. The Wildcats finished the first half on an 11-4 run.
As a team, Kentucky shot 79 percent (22-for-28) from the field during the first half, including 67 percent from 3-point range (4-for-6). Washington led Kentucky with 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting through the first 20 minutes.
Tennessee shot 54 percent in the opening period, led by double-figure scoring outputs from Chandler and Vescovi, who tallied 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Second Time’s A Charm
Since 2018, Rick Barnes and his staff have guided the Volunteers to a 17-5 record in regular-season rematch games (SEC Tournament games not included).
Series History And Notes
The Kentucky series is UT’s oldest and most-played among SEC opponents. The Vols and Wildcats first met on February 5th, 1910, and have clashed 233 times over the years.
No program in college basketball has logged more wins over Kentucky than Tennessee (75).
Tennessee has 15 all-time wins over the Wildcats at Thompson-Boling Arena, including four straight between 2016-19.
Kentucky is one of only two SEC?schools (Alabama) to lead its all-time series against the Volunteers.
Four Tennessee All-Americans were Kentucky natives: Allan Houston, Chris Lofton, Danny Schultz, and Paul “Lefty” Walther.
In each of the last five meetings, the team that has won the rebounding battle has won the game.
Since Rick Barnes‘ arrival on Rocky Top, the border rivalry with the Kentucky Wildcats has been recharged in a major way.
Barnes has led the Volunteers to an 8-7 overall record against the Wildcats, including at least one win in each of the last six seasons.
Tennessee also is the first program to defeat Kentucky at least once for six straight seasons since 1985; Tennessee beat the Wildcats in seven straight seasons from 1979-85 while Alabama managed an eight-year win streak over UK from 1978-85.
Spanning the first six years of the Barnes era at UT, the Vols are 4-2 against Kentucky in Knoxville, 3-4 vs. the Cats in Lexington, and 1-1 against UK in neutral-site clashes at the SEC Tournament.
Barnes + Calipari = 1,500+ Wins
Tuesday’s game features the two winningest coaches (total career Division I wins) in the SEC.
John Calipari is the league’s active leader in career wins, with 763. Rick Barnes is a close second with 745 victories to his credit.
Among all active Division I head coaches, Calipari and Barnes rank fifth and seventh, respectively, in total head coaching wins.
Barnes and Calipari became friends while working a Pitt basketball camp in the late 1970s. The star player at that camp? Former Arizona head coach Sean Miller.
Calipari Among Tennessee’s Most-Faced Active Coaches
On Tuesday, John Calipari will coach his 33rd career game against the Vols. Among active college coaches, he has the most career meetings against Tennessee.
COACH MEETINGS UT’s RECORD vs.
John Calipari 32 13-19
Tubby Smith 26 7-19
Frank Martin 17 12-5
UT Vols Hame 13 Wins Against Post-NBA Coach Cal
Since UK coach John Calipari returned to the college game in 2000-01, Tennessee has dealt him 13 losses. No team has more wins over Calipari-coached teams during that span.
Cincinnati, Kansas 5
Top-Five Wins Not Uncommon
Throughout the full history of the Tennessee-Kentucky series, the Vols have beaten a top-five Wildcats squad 12 times.
Tennessee has defeated four AP top-five foes during the Rick Barnes era, including three UK wins.
DATE OPPONENT SITE SCORE
Jan. 24, 2017 #4 Kentucky Knoxville W, 82-80
Dec. 9, 2018 #1 Gonzaga Phoenix W, 76-73
March 2, 2019 #4 Kentucky Knoxville W, 71-52
March 16, 2019 #4 Kentucky Nashville W, 82-78
Next Up For UT Vols Basketball
The Tennessee men’s basketball team hits the road for a top-25 clash with No. 23 Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3:00pm CT on either ESPN or ESPN2.