#2 Tennessee Vols vs. #4 Kentucky Wildcats
Sunday, March 11th, 2018 | 12:00pm CT
St. Louis, MO | Scottrade Center | TV: ESPN
St. Louis, MO – The No. 2 seeded Tennessee men’s basketball will look to win its first SEC Tournament Championship since 1979 on Sunday against fourth-seeded Kentucky at the Scottrade Center. The game tips around 12:00pm CT and will be televised live on ESPN and streamed online via WatchESPN.
The Volunteers (25-7) claimed a share of the SEC Regular-Season Championship after being picked to finish 13th by select media during the preseason. On Tuesday, UT swept the SEC’s postseason honors, as Rick Barnes won Coach of the Year, Grant Williams won Player of the Year and Lamonte Turner was Co-Sixth Man of the Year.
Williams, who was also named First Team All-SEC, joined Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Bernard King as the only Vols to earn SEC POY distinction as underclassmen.
SEC Co-Player of the Week and Second-Team All-SEC honoree Admiral Schofield averaged 23.5 points and 5.0 rebounds last week while delivering from the field (17-34, .500) and the free-throw line (11-13, .846) in victories over Mississippi State and Georgia to clinch a share of the title. In Saturday’s game against UGA, Schofield led the Vols in scoring for the third game in a row with 23 points to help UT comeback from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Bulldogs.
Tennessee won its first matchup of the tournament, defeating seventh-seeded Mississippi State in a hard-fought 62-59 victory in the quarterfinals. Turner led the way with 15 points, eight rebounds and a career-high four steals. Williams posted his first double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. On the night, UT held a 50-33 edge on the glass, including 22 offensive rebounds.
In the semifinals, the Volunteers shot 57.1 percent (28-of-49) from the field in a 84-66 rout over Arkansas. Jordan Bone fueled the Big Orange offense Saturday with 19 points and four assists on the day, while four other players finished with double-digit scoring as well.
UT swept the regular season matchups against Kentucky, including a 61-59 win in Rupp Arena on February 6. The last time UT won the championship (1979) came against the Wildcats and also marked the last time Tennessee went 3-0 against UK in a single season.
- Overall: Kentucky leads, 153-71
- In Knoxville: UK leads, 52-50
- In Lexington: UK leads, 90-17
- Neutral Sites: UK leads, 11-4
- Current Streak: UT has won two straight
- Last Meeting: Tennessee won, 61-59, in Lexington, 2/6/18
- Rick Barnes vs. Kentucky: 5-4
- Rick Barnes vs. John Calipari: Barnes leads, 6-4
\In its two wins over Kentucky this season, Tennessee has held the Wildcats to 62.0 ppg and owns a +4.5 rebounding margin and a +3.0 turnover margin.
SEC Co-Player of the Week Admiral Schofield is averaging 19.5 points and 6.7 during UT’s six-game win streak.
KenPom.com rates Tennessee third nationally in defensive efficiency, behind only Virginia and Cincinnati.
A Win Would
- Extend Tennessee’s win streak to a season-best seven games.
- Keep the Vols undefeated in rematch games this season. Tennessee is 7-0 in such games.
- Give Tennessee its fifth SEC Tournament title and its first since 1979.
- Mark just the third time a team has posted a 3-0 sweep over Kentucky in a single season. Tennessee did it in 1979, and Florida did it in 2014.
Tennessee Right Now
Tennessee enters Sunday’s SEC Tournament Championship Game riding a league-best, six-game win streak during which the Vols are allowing only 60.3 points per game while boasting a +10.2 scoring margin.
The Vols played a home-and-home series against five SEC teams this season: Kentucky, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Georgia. Prior to the season, Rick Barnes stressed the importance of those games to his coaching staff and said the Vols needed to go 8-2 in those contests. Tennessee was better than that—it went 9-1.
Picked to finish 13th in the SEC during the preseason, Tennessee entered this week’s SEC Tournament as the SEC Champion and ranked 13th in the AP top 25 poll.
SEC Tournament History
Tennessee is 67-53 (.558) in 58 all-time SEC Tournament appearances.
The Vols own the third-best SEC Tournament winning percentage among league schools, trailing only Kentucky (.841) and Alabama (.559).
Since the tournament was renewed in 1979, the Vols are 32-38 (.457).
Tennessee has won the SEC Tournament four times, tying Florida for third-most among league schools. The Vols won the event in 1936, 1941, 1943 and 1979. In three of those tournaments—1941 (in Louisville), 1943 (in Louisville) and 1979 (in Birmingham)—Tennessee defeated Kentucky in the Championship Game.
UT has reached the championship game 10 times (tied for third-most among league schools), most recently in 2009 in Tampa.
Tennessee has been the No. 2 seed three times previously at the SEC Tournament. The Vols defeated Auburn and Kentucky to win the tournament as the No. 2 seed Birmingham in 1979. UT beat Vanderbilt before losing to Alabama as the No. 2 seed in 1982 in Lexington. And the Vols fell to Ole Miss in overtime as the No. 2 seed in New Orleans in 2012.
Tennessee’s all-time record in the state of Missouri is now 4-6. The only cities in which the Vols have appeared are St. Louis (3-1) and Columbia (1-5).
The Kentucky series is UT’s oldest and most-played among SEC opponents. The Vols and Wildcats first met on Feb. 5, 1910, and have clashed 224 times over the years. No program in college basketball has logged more wins over Kentucky than Tennessee (71).
Kentucky is one of only three SEC schools (along with Alabama and Missouri) to lead its all-time series against the Volunteers.
Four Tennessee All-Americans were Kentucky natives: Allan Houston, Chris Lofton, Danny Schultz and Paul “Lefty” Walther.
Tennessee has 14 all-time wins over the Wildcats at Thompson-Boling Arena, including three straight.
The Vols have beaten the Wildcats five times at Rupp Arena, posting victories in 1977, 1979, 1999, 2006 and 2018 (a 61-59 win on February 6)th. Kentucky has an 11-4 series edge at neutral sites.
Vols Beat Cats Three Times In 1979
Beating the Wildcats was three times as nice during the 1978-79 season. UT notched program win No. 900 in Lexington on January 20th, 66-55, before topping UK 101-84 in Knoxville on February 17th. Then the Vols won the 1979 SEC Tournament with a 75-69 win over UK in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 3rd.
Current Vol Network radio analyst Bert Bertelkamp was a junior on that Tennessee team.
Tennessee’s 2018 SEC Legend, Howard Wood, who is here in St. Louis and was honored during halftime of Tennessee’s win over Mississippi State on Friday, also was a sophomore on that 1979 squad.
Last Meeting With Kentucky
A poised, all-around effort in the closing minutes lifted 15th-ranked Tennessee to a 61-59 victory over 24th-ranked Kentucky on February 6th, 2018, at Rupp Arena. The Volunteers have now won six straight games and stand alone in second place in the Southeastern Conference standings.
The triumph was Tennessee’s fifth all-time win over the Wildcats at Rupp Arena (1977, 1979, 1999, 2006). It also gave the Vols (18-5, 8-3 SEC) their first regular-season sweep over Kentucky since the 1998-99 season.
SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year Lamonte Turner drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to play and finished as Tennessee’s top scorer on the night with a game-high 16 points.
Jordan Bowden scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, while Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams also scored in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Neither team led by more than three points until a pair of free throws by Williams gave UT a 50-46 advantage just inside the five-minute mark.
With Kentucky holding a 58-56 lead, a diving defensive effort on the perimeter by Vols junior Kyle Alexander forced a Kentucky turnover, and rather than call a timeout, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes opted to let the Vols run offense. The decision paid off, as Turner found space to launch the 3-pointer that gave the Big Orange a 59-58 lead.
Alexander’s final stat line included six points, four rebounds, two blocks and arguably the biggest steal of his career.
Turner led the Vols with 11 first-half points as Tennessee took a 27-26 lead into the break.
Tennessee vs. Kentucky in the SEC Tournament
Tennessee is 4-11 all-time against Kentucky at the SEC Tournament.
The most recent meeting was a 74-45 Kentucky victory at the 2010 tournament in Nashville. UT was the East No. 3seed, and the Wildcats were the East No. 1 seed.
Since the tournament was renewed in 1979, the teams have met at the event four times, with Kentucky holding a 3-1 edge.
Vols Have Eight Wins vs. Calipari
Since UK coach John Calipari returned to the college game in 2000-01, Tennessee has dealt him eight losses. No team has more wins over Calipari-coached teams during that span.
Ole Miss 4
Southern Miss 4
SectionsAssociations, Basketball (Men), Colleges, Featured Story, NCAA, Southeastern Conference, Sports, University of Tennessee
TopicsAdmiral Schofield, Alabama, Allan Houston, Bert Bertelkamp, Chris Lofton, Danny Schultz, ESPN, Florida, Georgia, Grant Williams, John Callipari, Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Kentucky, Knoxville TN, Kyle Alexander, Lamonte Turner, Lexington KY, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Paul Walther, Rick Barnes, Rupp Arena, scottrade center, SEC, SEC Tournament, South Carolina, Southeastern Conference, Southern Miss, St. Louis MO, Tennessee, Tennessee Vols, Thompson-Boling Arena, UT, UT Basketball, UT Men's Basketball, UT vols, Vanderbilt, Vols, Volunteers, Wildcats