The rubber match between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Tennessee Volunteers decided who would be in the SEC Tournament championship game.
Each team came out of the gate strong as they traded buckets early, and it was 7-7 just two minutes into the game.
Both teams made small runs, but at the under 12 media timeout, it was the Cats that had the 20-16 lead.
However, with just under 6 minutes remaining in the half, an Admiral Schofield jumper gave the Vols a 26-24 lead.
Tennessee built up a 29-24 lead with 4 minutes left on the clock, and Kentucky was able to cut into the lead, and a Reid Travis three as the half ended sent the teams into the break with the Vols leading 36-34.
In the second half, both teams came out strong. It was a back and forth game and the Vols had a 44-43 lead at the first timeout.
Kentucky would battle back and take a lead on Tennessee, but another run by the Vols gave them the 52-51 lead with just under 12 minutes to play.
Both teams continued to battle but it was Kentucky that took the lead and controlled the game for a big stretch and with 3 minutes to play the Cats were up 8.
Unfortunately, the Cats didn’t execute in the last three minutes, and the Vols made a huge run to storm back and win it 82-78.
Thoughts on the game
Ashton Hagans was outstanding
In the previous matchup between these two teams, Hagans struggled tremendously on both sides of the ball.
That wasn’t the case in this one, as he provided a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists.
Ashton Hagans with the nice hesitation on his way to the basket. pic.twitter.com/VUcQYuJ6uY— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) March 16, 2019
Ashton Hagans right down Broadway. pic.twitter.com/uhZmF2O6U3— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) March 16, 2019
He was much better defensively, even though Jordan Bone had 18 points. The Hagans we saw in this one is the Hagans we need the rest of the season.
Losing Reid Travis was when UK lost
Travis was a beast yet again on his way to recording 11 points, 6 rebounds, and a steal. His presence down low made life very difficult for the Vols’ bigs.
Reid Travis spinning jump hook off glass. pic.twitter.com/fsKQYE83ae— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) March 16, 2019
Reid Travis with a huuuuuuge 3 from way downtown to end the half. pic.twitter.com/3zdw0BBtfw— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) March 16, 2019
However, Travis fouled out with just under three minutes remaining, and that is when Tennessee went on their huge game winning run.
Travis brings a toughness and consistency that really hurt UK when they lost it down the stretch.
PJ Washington had a huge second half
Once again, PJ was taken out of the game in the first half with two fouls only playing six minutes in the half.
Right at the start of the second half, he was much more aggressive and ready for the moment.
He finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and a block. He was a beast throughout the half and gave the Cats an excellent chance to win it.
PJ Washington swats the three point attempt. pic.twitter.com/DlpDkF1rK3— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) March 16, 2019
PJ Washington with a man two hand slam. pic.twitter.com/x3jwhuVwDK— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) March 16, 2019
With Travis back, the second half PJ is what we should expect to see throughout the NCAA Tournament.
On to the NCAA Tournament
This loss stings and it will for a day or two, but UK must put it behind them as the more important games are coming up.
This team knows that they had this one in the bag with 3 minutes to play, and they know they let it slip away.
I think that will be a huge amount of motivation for this group, and we could be in for a show starting next weekend.
It is time for this run, and I think the team is ready.
We will find out when and where the Cats will play tomorrow when the selection show reveals the brackets. You can watch the show Sunday at 6:00 PM on CBS.
Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
· Kentucky is 27-6 overall, ending a three-game winning streak. Tennessee is 29-4.
· UK leads the Tennessee series, 155-73.
o On Feb. 16, UK won 86-69 in Lexington.
o On March 2, Tennessee won 71-52 in Knoxville.
· Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats return home to learn their NCAA Tournament destination Sunday night.
In the First Half
· Kentucky started the combination of Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Reid Travis for the 20th time. UK is 15-5 with this lineup.
· Both teams came out hot early and at the first television timeout, UK led 13-11.
· Trailing 24-21, Tennessee put together an 8-0 run for a 29-24 lead, its largest of the game.
· Tennessee was strong from long range, making its first four 3-pointers and 7-of-9 in the half.
· Tennessee led at halftime, 36-34, after Travis hit a long 3, his first since Feb. 12.
· Washington, UK’s leading scorer and rebounder, picked up his second foul with 14:18 left and did not play the rest of the half.
In the Second Half
· Kentucky opened with the second half with the starting lineup.
· The teams continued to battle evenly, with the teams staying within four points of each other during the first 12 minutes of the half.
· Trailing 58-57, Hagans put the Wildcats ahead with a layup, then fed Johnson and Washington for layups and a 63-58 Wildcat lead.
· Hagans’ spurt began a 10-2 Kentucky run that staked the Wildcats to a 67-60 lead.
· A basket-and-one by Johnson with 2:58 left gave the Cats their largest lead at 72-64.
· Tennessee stormed back, needing only 90 seconds for an 11-2 run to go ahead 75-74 with 1:28 remaining.
· Washington’s tip-in put the Cats back ahead at 76-75.
· Tennessee Lamonte Turner made a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to put the Volunteers ahead 78-76 and two foul shots by Jordan Bone made it 80-76 with 10 seconds remaining.
· After a Hagans layup, Bone made two more free throws and Tennessee won 82-78.
· Over the last three minutes of the game, Tennessee finished on an 18-6 run.
· Today’s game was magnificently contested, with nine ties and 15 lead changes. No team led by more than eight points.
· Kentucky shot 53.6 percent from the field. UK suffered its first lost when making half its shots and is now is 14-1 this season when shooting 50 percent or better.
· UK won the rebounding, 32-29. UK fell to 21-4 this season when outrebounding the opponent.
· Kentucky dominated points in the paint, 44-22. The Wildcats are now 23-4 when winning the points in the paint.
· Five Wildcats scored in double figures, the first time that has been accomplished since Jan. 5 at Alabama. Ironically, that was also a loss.
· UK fell to 5-4 vs. Associated Press Top 25 teams this season and 4-3 vs. the top 10.
In the SEC Tournament
· Kentucky has an all-tine record of 134-26 in the SEC Tournament. Today’s game ended a 13-game tourney winning streak and a run of four straight championships.
· UK is 42-3 in semifinal games and has been in the semifinals six years in a row.
· Kentucky is 12-5 vs. Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, including 5-2 in semifinal games.
o This is the second year in a row that the teams met in the SEC Tournament, with UK defeating Tennessee in the 2018 championship game.
· Coach Calipari is 23-4 in the SEC Tournament.
· PJ Washington led the Wildcats with 16 points and had five rebounds.
· It is the 15th time this season he has led the team in scoring.
· Keldon Johnson tallied 15 points and tied for the team lead in rebounding with six.
· Ashton Hagans had 10 points and a career-high 12 assists.
· His 12 assists are the most ever for a Wildcat in the SEC Tournament under Calipari and most by a Wildcat this season.
· After beginning the season 5 of 27 on 3-point shots, Hagans has made 8 of 17 long balls over his last seven games.
· Reid Travis scored 11 points and tied Johnson for the team lead in rebounding with six.
· Tyler Herro scored 10 points and added four assists.
· Nick Richards played an efficient 10 minutes, scoring six points, making 2 of 2 field goals and free throws, along with four rebounds.
· EJ Montgomery’s eight points are his most since Feb. 5 vs. South Carolina.
· Calipari is now 302-70 at UK.
· Calipari has a 747-210 all-time on-court record.
· Under Calipari, UK is 57-30 vs. ranked competition.
· UK is 15-11 under Calipari when both teams are ranked in the AP top 10.