LEXINGTON, Ky. (WJHL) – The Vols managed just 19 first-half points in Rupp Arena on Saturday, as the Wildcats topped UT, 66-54.
The Big Orange cashed in on just seven of the team’s first 27 shots on the day, leading to a 39-19 Kentucky halftime lead.
Rick Barnes and company began mounting a comeback in the second half, starting the frame on a 7-0 run. Tennessee cut the lead to as few as eight points on the backs of Santiago Vescovi and Jahmai Mashack. But, their combined 33 points were not enough to lift the squad to victory.
Vescovi tallied a team-best 17 points, while Mashack notched 16 points and eight rebounds in defeat.
The real separator came at the charity stripe, however. The Vols made just 4-of-14 from the free throw line, while UK cashed in on 23-of-35 attempts.
“I thought early in the game the shot selection wasn’t very good,” Barnes said after the game. “I thought our guys allowed that to seep into the defensive side of the court where we weren’t as – and not everyone – locked in as we needed to be.”
“You can’t miss the free throws – that many free throws – like we do in those situations,” he continued. “The rim shots are the tough ones, too.”
Tennessee (20-7, 9-5 SEC) takes a hit in the conference standings heading into a road contest on Tuesday evening. The Big Orange will face Texas A&M in College Station at 7 p.m. ET.