Late 20-2 spurt lifts UK

With its top gun in street clothes due to an ankle injury, Tennessee's basketball team ran out of firepower Sunday in Lexington. That proved decisive, as the No. 25 Wildcats bounced the Vols 76-57.

Even without SEC scoring leader Chris Lofton and his 21.5 points per game, Tennessee trailed by just one point (47-46) with 10 minutes left. But Ramel Bradley drained three 3-pointers during a 20-2 explosion that enabled the Big Blue to open up a 67-48 lead.

With Lofton sidelined, JaJuan Smith picked up some of the scoring slack for Tennessee, hitting 9 of 17 shots en route to a career-high 25 points. Ramar Smith chipped in 10 points, eight of those coming in the first half.

Bradley finished with 21 points for Kentucky. Jody Meeks came off the bench to chip in 16 points. Joe Crawford scored 15. Randolph Morris, UK's imposing center, was limited by first-half foul trouble to 19 minutes, 9 points and 4 rebounds.

"I think Kentucky really did a good job making shots, with Meeks, Bradley and Crawford in the second half," UT coach Bruce Pearl said on his post-game show. "With Randolph Morris playing more (in the second half) we had to account for him inside, which means you are a little bit more exposed (defensively) on the perimeter."

Morris picked up two quick fouls and scored just two points in six first-half minutes. With the 6-11, 259-pounder on the UK bench, Tennessee was able to build a 32-31 halftime lead.

"We did a good job of getting him in foul trouble as part of our game plan," Pearl noted. "We got him out of the game and, without Randolph Morris, we were a better team than they were."

Morris returned to action in the second half, however, and helped Kentucky outscore the Vols 45-25 after intermission and win going away. Pearl conceded that Morris' dominating presence "was definitely a factor" in the Big Blue's second-half surge.

Even with Morris hampered by foul trouble, Kentucky dominated the backboards, outrebounding Tennessee 42-27.

The Wildcats improve to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in SEC play. The Vols, losers in five of their last six games, slip to 14-7 and 2-4.

Tennessee scored the game's first seven points but Kentucky made a 24-12 run to go up 24-19. The game was nip-and-tuck from that point until Bradley's 3-point binge fueled Kentucky's game-clinching 20-2 outburst. The Vols simply didn't have enough offense to answer.

"It's frustrating," Pearl said. "Without Chris, you lose 21 points per game AND all the things he does to attract the defense (freeing other Vols). Now you need the other guys to step up and score more, and the other guys are receiving more attention than they normally would, which is sort of a double-edged sword."

Tennessee tries to get back on track Wednesday night against Georgia. Tipoff is set for 7:30 at Thompson-Boling Arena with no TV coverage.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories