How to beat Kentucky

In case you'd like the formula for beating second-ranked Kentucky's talent-laden basketball team, here's the one Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl used in Saturday's 74-65 win at Thompson-Boling Arena:

- Have your daughter, Jacqui, sing the National Anthem. The Vols are now 21-6 when she does the honors.

- Have 21,214 of your most rabid supporters turn out in full voice to cheer the Big Orange and boo the Big Blue.

- Have former UT football coach Phillip Fulmer show up at courtside in an orange blazer, too. Pearl wearing an orange blazer wasn't enough in the earlier meeting at Lexington, as UK prevailed 73-62.

- Have the weary Wildcats take the court just 36 hours after playing a late game on Thursday night.

- Have your team score 18 consecutive points after falling behind 4-0. (This is more difficult than it sounds.)

- Have your son, Steven, come off the bench to register a team-high 4 first-half rebounds against the towering Big Blue front line.

- Have J.P. Prince, who made just 3 of 24 shots from 3-point range last season, hit 2 of 3 tries against the Cats.

- Have your team build a 19-point lead with 14 minutes to go, so it can withstand Kentucky's furious finish. (This is MUCH more difficult than it sounds).

- Have the Cats go 0 for 3 from the floor en route to being outscored 9-0 over the game's final 2:06.

- Have Kentucky commit three turnovers (two by superstar freshman John Wall) in the game's final 1:17.

- Have a Kentucky native (Scotty Hopson) sink a clutch 3-pointer in the last 40 seconds.

- Have the afore-mentioned Prince, a 60-percent foul shooter on the season, make four consecutive tries in the final 24 seconds to put the game on ice.

- Have Kentucky make just 35.0 percent of its field-goal tries, including a frigid 2 of 22 behind the 3-point arc.

Meeting with the media afterward, Bruce Pearl admitted feeling "a lot of emotion" following the colossal upset, calling it "a great effort" and "an important win for our program because Kentucky is such a benchmark in the SEC."

The coach heaped praise on the Vol crowd, noting that "There is not a better environment in college basketball than Thompson-Boling Arena. It's as good as any. How about that? We don't beat Kentucky or (No. 1) Kansas (on Jan. 10) without 22,000. It just doesn't happen. That's what makes this one of the best jobs in college basketball."

Tennessee's players were just as complimentary of the fan base.

"I think the fans came out with a different level of energy," Prince said. "When the fans bring energy we bring energy, and they were great today. They were a great Sixth Man, and you've got to give a lot of credit to them."

Fellow senior Wayne Chism thought so, too. When asked for the key to Tennessee's 9-0 finishing kick, he replied: "The crowd and the veterans. You see who took the shots at the end: J.P. ended the game with the free throws. Scotty made the big shot to make us go up by five."

Chism paused several seconds at this point, his voice apparently choked with emotion, before adding:

"Bobby (Maze) made a couple of good transition layups. You could tell Scotty was not scared. Scotty was a man tonight."

Chism's emotion was understandable. This team has been through a lot. Senior Josh Tabb left the team in preseason to assist his mother, who is battling cancer back in Carbondale, Ill. Sophomore Emmanuel Negedu is missing the season due to a career-threatening heart condition. Senior standout Tyler Smith has been dismissed from the team. Three other key players have endured suspensions ranging from four to nine games. Chism, meanwhile, has had to fight through injuries to his knee, his ankle, his hip and his back.

Perhaps the Vols won this game partly because all of that adversity has made them tougher, mentally and physically.

"Oh, we was already tough," Chism said. "We just finally put it all together. I'm glad everybody came together today."

Including Jacqui Pearl with her sweet voice and Phillip Fulmer with his orange blazer. On this day they were part of the winning formula.

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