No. 15 Tennessee edges No. 24 Kentucky 61-59
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Eager to atone for mistakes he believed allowed Kentucky to stay close, Tennessee guard Lamonte Turner delivered a pressure jumper that gave the No. 15 Volunteers something rare — a victory in Rupp Arena.
Turner scored 16 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining, Admiral Schofield followed with an insurance dunk off a turnover and the Volunteers edged No. 24 Kentucky 61-59 on Tuesday night for its sixth consecutive victory.
“I knew it was good,” said the sophomore guard, who was 4 of 7 from behind the arc. “I gave up an and-1 and maybe a tip-in rebound, so when I hit it I was kind of like, ‘I had to do something, I was losing the game.’ It was more of an even feel when I hit the shot.”
Tennessee ran down the shot clock in the final minute before Turner fired from long range for the go-ahead basket in a tight game featuring 17 lead changes and 13 ties. Kentucky quickly got the ball up court in hopes of answering, but that quest to go ahead resulted in steal by Jordan Bowden and Schofield’s thunderous dunk with 4 seconds left for a 61-58 lead.
Coach John Calipari said afterward that he regretted not calling a timeout to set up a play.
“I made mistakes at the end and cost them (players) the game,” he said. “I don’t ever like to in those situations, but this is a different team. They’re just too young to know what’s there and if they get in trouble, just call a timeout.”
Kentucky had one last chance as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made the first throw with 1.3 seconds left and intentionally missed the second in an effort to create an offensive rebound, but Tennessee came up with the ball as time ran out. The joyous Vols (18-5, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) came away with just their fifth Rupp Arena victory and first since 2006 while handing the Wildcats their second consecutive loss.
“Scoring was hard to come by, and we just stayed with it defensively,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We stayed in it and were able to get it at the end.”
Bowden had 13 points and Schofield 12 for the second-place Vols, who won a game in which both teams shot 42 percent. Tennessee earned its first season sweep of Kentucky since the 1998-99 season.
“The biggest thing is that Tennessee beat Kentucky in Rupp tonight,” Schofield said. “That was our goal coming in here, and we got it done.”
Quade Green and Gilgeous-Alexander each had 15 points for Kentucky (17-7, 6-5).
Tennessee: For the third time during their winning streak, the Volunteers won despite not shooting particularly well. But they were efficient when necessary and most impressively, stayed poised in a hostile environment where they had lost their last 10 visits. Especially Turner, who came off the bench to make 6 of 10 from the field including a clutch basket.
“I tell coach to put him in all the time because he’s the most clutch guy I’ve been around,” Schofield said. “He’s a big-time shooter in my book. He puts the work in.”
Kentucky: The Wildcats battled but seemingly couldn’t stop the Volunteers every time they managed to grab a lead. While baskets were critical, rebounds were even more key and they were edged 32-30 on the glass and outscored 16-11 in second-chance points by Tennessee. Just when Kentucky seemed headed in the right direction with four consecutive wins, it has now lost back to back for the second time this season. Kevin Knox had 10 points.
Kentucky redshirt freshman forward Hamidou posted his first scoreless game with the Wildcats, missing all three shots including two from long range.
The Vols’ sweep of the Wildcats could impress voters enough to move them up. Kentucky’s loss means it must regroup at Texas A&M if it hopes to stay ranked.
Tennessee visits Alabama on Saturday.
Kentucky visits Texas A&M on Saturday.
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