Sidelines with John Clay

Ten quick things from the first Kentucky-Tennessee game

With Kentucky headed to Rocky Top on Saturday for the rematch with Tennessee, here are 10 quick things to remember from UK’s 86-69 victory over the Volunteers on Feb. 16 at Rupp Arena:

1. Whatever John Calipari said at halftime in Rupp Arena that day, he needs to say at Thompson-Boling. Up 37-31 at the break, Kentucky outscored the Vols 14-0 to start the second half to blast the lead out to 20 points. The (then) nation’s No. 1-ranked team never got closer than 11 points the rest of the night.

2. Kentucky shot 54.7 percent from the floor. That ranks as UK’s fifth-highest shooting percentage of the 2018-19 season, behind its wins over Utah (58.6), Monmouth (56.6), Winthrop (56.4) and Vanderbilt in Nashville (55.6).

3. UK averaged 1.271 points per possession. That is seventh-best on the season, behind the Cats’ PPP against Utah (1.404), North Dakota (1.367), VMI (1.341), at Vanderbilt (1.320), Monmouth (1.306) and Auburn in Rupp Arena (1.271).

4. Tennessee shot 40.7 percent against UK on that long, long night. Head coach Rick Barnes criticized his team for being “selfish” and settling for outside shots. The shooting percentage against the Cats is UT’s third-lowest of the season, ahead of only 39.6 versus Georgia Tech and 40.3 percent vs. Gonzaga.

5. Tennessee took 25 three-point shots against UK, making seven. That’s the fourth-most threes the Vols have taken in a game this season. Barnes’ crew was 12-of-29 from three when it knocked off then-No. 1 Gonzaga. It was 7-of-28 in a win over Eastern Kentucky and 7-of-27 in an overtime loss to Kansas.

6. In its 73-71 win at Ole Miss on Wednesday night, Tennessee took just 13 three-point shots, making three. But the Vols were 26-of-43 from two-point range for 60.5 percent. They shot 51.8 percent overall. That’s more of what Barnes wants.

[SEC men’s basketball game-by-game results, schedule]

7. Grant Williams had a season-low four field goal attempts. He did finish with 16 points, but made just three of four shots from the floor. This is a guy who’s averaging 11.1 shots and 6.3 makes per game. The SEC’s reigning Player of the Year is averaging 19.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in his encore season.

[So far, Kentucky hasn’t missed Reid Travis. Saturday could change that.]

His previous field goal low was five attempts against Georgia on Jan. 5. He made four of those shots that day, including a three-pointer, and went 9-of-11 from the line for 18 points.

8. UK’s Tyler “I’m a Bucket” Herro had a big game. Everyone remembers that PJ Washington scored 23 points, but Herro turned in a double-double with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. Consider that in UK’s three games since Feb. 16, Herro has a grand total of 13 rebounds.

9. Jordan Bone led Tennessee with 19 points in the first game. And when Calipari was asked Friday which Volunteer does not get talked about enough, Cal singled out Bone. “He’s an attack dog.”

10. When Tennessee saw its 19-game win streak snapped that night, much was made of the fact the Vols had not played a ranked team since its Dec. 9 win over Gonzaga. Before Gonzaga, UT lost to No 2 Kansas 87-81 in overtime. Since the UK game, the Vols lost at No. 13 LSU 82-80 in overtime. So on the season, Tennessee is 1-3 vs. ranked teams, with two of those defeats coming in overtime.

SEC men’s basketball standings

Miss State9-621-7
Ole Miss9-619-9
S Carolina9-614-14
Texas A&M5-1012-15
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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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