It was a winner take #2 game for the winner. A Kentucky loss would mean the #3 seed, a Tennessee loss would drop them all the way to #5. When the final horn sounded UK (22-8) had locked up the 64-58 win, the higher tourney seed, and had improved to 22-8 (10-6) on the season. The Volunteers fall to 18-13 (8-8).
The Vols dominated the first half of play. The Wildcats struggled offensively, struggled defensively and were kept afloat by DeAndre Liggins as the UK junior had a team high 6 points in the first half.
Freshman Brandon Knight did not score until the final possession of the first half. The basket pulled the Wildcats to within 7 points, 22-29.
The basket was enough to wake Knight from his slumber. In the second half the Kentucky point guard came out smokin' hot. His three ball at 18:21 tied the game at 29. After a Doron Lamb three gave the Wildcats the 32-31 lead Knight hit another three to give the Cats a 35-31 advantage.
After a Tobias Harris layup Knight dialed long distance again, boosting the UK advantage to 38-33.
Knight did not hit another three, but was deadly at the charity stripe. Down the stretch Knight was 6-6 from the line.
Tennessee briefly regained the lead at 52-51 on a Kenny Hall jumper in the lane at the 6:00 mark. Terrence Jones quickly put the Cats back on top, this time for good.
Over the final six minutes the Kentucky defense held Tennessee to one basket, an And-1 opportunity for Scotty Hopson. During that span the Cats outscored UT 13-6.
UT still had hope inside the final 30 seconds of play. With the score 61-58 Tennessee forced a tough from Darius Miller. Senior Josh Harrellson attacked the offensive rebound, and UK gained possession when Tennessee slapped the ball out of bounds.
Following a time out Bruce Pearl's squad forced the ball into Jones. UT hesitated before giving the foul, which infuriated Pearl.
Jones, who had struggled from the line, was perfect on the two attempts, giving UK a 63-58 cushion.
Harris rushed up a three, Jones tracked down the resulting air ball and was fouled by the Vols with 3 seconds remaining. After making the first from the line Jones missed the second (intentionally?). Time expired before Tennessee could get a shot.
Knight led the Wildcats with 19 points. Miller and Jones each tallied 15. Jones snared 12 rebounds, netting the freshman another double-double.
Cats , "Good Knight, Rocky Top!"
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