Tennessee may have been due.
Playing their sixth game against a ranked opponent this season, the inconsistent Volunteers finally broke through on Tuesday night with an 82-80 upset of No. 4 Kentucky at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
Tennessee (11-9, 4-4 SEC) had lost its previous five games against ranked opponents -- No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 8 Gonzaga, No. 13 Oregon, No. 7 North Carolina and No. 24 Florida -- by an average margin of 7.4 points.
The difference on this night? Senior wing Robert Hubbs III poured in 25 points, and the Vols shredded the UK defense for 47 percent shooting (30 of 64) from the field. Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams added 15 and 13 points, respectively, for UT. The trio came into the game averaging a combined 31.9 points per game, but posted 53 against the Cats.
"They played how we normally play," UK head coach John Calipari said. "They passed the ball to one another. They drove the ball. They were the aggressor. They attacked. Right now, we've gotten away from being that team."
The Vols led by as many as 11 points with 12:49 remaining in the game, but had to hold off the expected rally from UK. The Cats got within 68-66 with 3:42 to play, but had a sequence that included back-to-back turnovers by Monk, who slipped on the floor from sweat left by the previous bench huddle, and Fox, who lost control of the ball on a drive into the lane. Tennessee responded with runout baskets to push the lead back to seven.
Kentucky (17-3, 7-1 SEC) had one of its sloppiest games of the season. The Cats shot 42 percent (25 of 60) from the field and committed 14 turnovers leading to 19 points for the Vols. UK entered the game averaging 93 points.
Malik Monk led UK with 25 points. Bam Adebayo added 21. De'Aaron Fox returned from his ankle injury suffered Saturday against South Carolina and scored 17 points, but it wasn't enough to avoid the upset.
"He's the one bright spot right now," Calipari said of Adebayo, who went 7-of-8 from the field and 7-of-8 at the line, "but we just don't get him the ball enough."
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the game...
WHAT WENT WRONG:
Where do we begin? It was a night which saw UK miss five out of eight free throws during one first-half stretch; had a player miss an uncontested runout layup; had an opponent bank in a 3-pointer; lost two points on a tip-in that turned into a point for UT on a phantom foul call; had a player fall down for a turnover with the game on the line because the team managers didn't wipe sweat from the floor during the previous timeout; and allowed an opposing player to score 10 points over his season average. It would have been easier to summarize what went right.
Robert Hubbs III, Tennessee -- The Vols' senior wing came into the game averaging 14.7 points per game and feasted on a poor UK defense for 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 shooting from the line.
BY THE NUMBERS:
2nd - Year in a row UT has upset UK in Knoxville.
14 - Rebounds by UK's Isaiah Briscoe, a career high.
37-4 - Bench points in favor of UT.
40-39 - Slim rebounding edge for UK against the undersized Vols.
42 - Points in the paint by UT.
54-50 - UK's all-time record against UT in Knoxville; the Cats are 98-19 in all other locations.
"It all comes back to me right now. We've got a good team, but we're young." -- UK head coach John Calipari.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday against No. 2 Kansas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tipoff at Rupp Arena is slated for 6:15 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Jayhawks lost 85-69 on Tuesday night at West Virginia.