Bruce Pearl's plan heading into the #12 Tennessee Volunteers' annual trek to Lexington to take on the #2 Kentucky Wildcats was to zone, zone, zone. The strategy worked well for three-fourths of the game, the final one-fourth of the game determined the outcome, as Kentucky came away with a 73-62 win.
With the Volunteers leading 52-50 following a J.P. Prince charity toss completed anold-fashioned three point play with 10:12 remaining the Vols looked to be in good shape going down the stretch.
Looks can be, and were deceiving.
Over the next seven and one-half minutes Kentucky's fabulous freshmen backcourt of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe took over the offense for the Wildcats and outscored the Volunteers 20-4, to give the Wildcats a 70-56 cushion with 2:42 remaining. During the run the frosh backcourt scored every basket but one, a fastbreak dunk by DeAndre Liggins.
While the freshmen backcourt took over the offense the Kentucky team defense, led by the effort of Liggins, picked up the intensity and gave Tennessee very few good looks from the field.
Wall scored 24 points for the Wildcats, Bledsoe scored 16, and Patrick Patterson added ten for the Wildcats.
DeMarcus Cousins had an unusual off game, finishing the game with only five points. Cousins had four of those points on putback baskets prior to taking a hard fall to the floor in the first half. Kentucky's big man did not play his normal game the rest of the way. Cousins, who had improved dramatically from the charity stripe following his early season struggles was only 1 of 8 from the charity stripe. Big Cuz did pull down a game high twelve rebounds.
Liggins did not just supply hard-nosed defense off the bench, but also contributed 7 points, 4 rebounds and tied Bledsoe with a team high 4 assists.
Tennessee was led by Bobby Maze's 15 points. Melvin Goins and Wayne Chism came off the bench to score 14 and 12 points respectively. Scotty Hopson added 10 for the Vols.
Kentucky moves to 24-1, and is now 9-1 in SEC play. The Vols falls to 18-6 and is now 6-4 in SEC play, following consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky on the road this week.
UT runs into Wall, gets hit by Bledsoe
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