Just two weeks removed from an embarrassing loss to Kentucky, No. 7 Tennessee got its revenge Saturday by hammering the No. 4-ranked Wildcats at home for a 71-52 victory that gives the Volunteers a slight edge in the SEC title race.
The win also moves Tennessee (26-3, 14-2 SEC) up in consideration for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Vols fell back to the No. 2 line in USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology projections last week but have a profile worthy of vaulting back to the No. 1 line — perhaps over Kentucky (24-5, 13-3 SEC).
Tennessee guard Jordan Bone was the main offensive catalyst in Saturday’s convincing win, finishing with 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting from the floor. Grant Williams added 24 points to go with seven rebounds.
“The last game, they just manhandled us and they were the more physical team,” Bone said after the game. “You could just tell the way the game went, they just wanted it more.
“We don’t ever want to go into a game or leave a game saying that about another team, they wanted it more than us. That’s something we challenged ourselves with.”
Kentucky’s offense went cold in this contest, with the Wildcats finishing 5-for-19 from beyond the arc. P.J. Washington led UK in the loss with 13 points.
The Volunteers had a counter-punch to anything Kentucky threw at them. They led by 20 early in the second half and by 19 with about seven minute remaining.
Tennessee capitalized on the absence of Kentucky forward Reid Travis, who missed a third straight game with a sprained right knee.
Tennessee is tied with LSU atop the SEC standings with just two regular-season games remaining next week before the SEC tournament. Kentucky is now one game back.
Contributing: The Associated Press