After two gritty wins, the Kentucky Wildcats came into Saturday’s matchup with #19 Tennessee riding some momentum for the first time in a long time.
Defeating a top-20 team on their home floor presented a much greater challenge than than beating Auburn and Vanderbilt.
But nobody is told John Calipari’s team that.
Kentucky came out and played what was definitively their best game of the entire season.
Offense flowed effortlessly as fans collectively let out deep breaths of relief.
Basketball was fun again.
There were several key plays you could make mention of but it was the thunderous slams of Jacob Toppin and Isaiah Jackson that were the most reminiscent of Cal era hoops.
UK would take a comfortable 15 point to the locker room at halftime.
Kentucky fans know all too well that a college basketball game is 40 full minutes.
You can only assume the message from the coaching staff at the break was to keep the petal to the metal.
Whatever was said — it worked.
The Cats would push the lead all the way to 20 points before the ten minute mark all while dominating the Vols in just about every aspect of the game.
Tennessee had no answers for Kentucky on either end of the floor.
Despite a mild inevitable second half scoring drought the Cats played a pretty complete game that I don’t think many people saw coming.
This will be a different Twitter reactions post than most any others from this season.
Sure the 15 point win was terrific. But the fun brand of up and down basketball were really a big takeaway from today.
Now the conversation will quickly transition to whether or not this team really has what it takes to go down to Nashville and win four straight.
Here is how Twitter felt about the Volunteer beatdown.
It's time to beat Tennessee. Let's do this!— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) February 20, 2021
Tennessee started out a 6-point favorite. It is now 7.5. The over/under is 137.5. Ken Pom gives the Vols a 75% chance to win, and picks them 68-61. The o/u has taken a big jump. Sounds like KenPom likes the under. @KentuckyRivals— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 20, 2021
Kentucky's freshmen leading the way early in Knoxville: Askew floater, Jackson and-one, Boston two steals. It's 5-all.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) February 20, 2021
Kentucky is playing very hard!! Just have to clean up some sloppy mistakes— Dylan Ballard (@DylanBallard_UK) February 20, 2021
Mintz never seen a transition three he doesn’t love. It’s awesome.— Jesse Riffe (@JesseRiffe) February 20, 2021
I don't ever find myself questioning a Davion Mintz shot.— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) February 20, 2021
Kentucky looking to push the ball in transition, and they have to. Tennessee doesn’t have to double the post like Vanderbilt & others did. Makes it harder for Calipari to dial up open looks in the half court. UK needs to speed the game up. @KentuckyRivals— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 20, 2021
Davion Mintz may have a higher 3 point % than BJ Boston has on layups— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 20, 2021
Kentucky 18, Tennessee 10, 11:28 1H— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) February 20, 2021
Cats on a 10-0 run, Vols have missed 9 of 10 shots. UK shooting 58.3 percent, UT 26.7 percent.
Gotta keep an eye on Isaiah Jackson after a hard fall on that blocked dunk.
JACOB TOPPIN WITH THE HAMMER— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) February 20, 2021
Mintz for 3 again and Kentucky is on a 15-0 run to jump out to 23-10 lead.— ESPN Radio Lexington (@ESPNRadioLex) February 20, 2021
When is Tennessee going to adopt a modern offense like Kentucky's?— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) February 20, 2021
Fast pace playing out of offense paying off big and energizing defense so far..pleasure to watch. Go Cats!— Roger Harden (@HardenRoger) February 20, 2021
Tennessee just 3 of its last 19 FG and it's 30-16 Kentucky.— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) February 20, 2021
I am back to believing Kentucky is going to win the SEC Tournament— • (@swilson502) February 20, 2021
Time Tennessee at 4:30 after Boston's fast-break layup gives UK a 34-19 lead. UK has 12-3 advantage in fast-break points.— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) February 20, 2021
Jacob Toppin with the quick strip, takes it down the floor himself, and then a perfectly placed lob on the run to Boston. Toppin has also blocked a long jumper, shown great touch on a jumper of his own, plus that highlight-reel dunk earlier. Kentucky 34, Tennessee 19. 4:30 in 1H.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) February 20, 2021
Quality Kentucky Basketball. Welcome back.— Cats Coverage (@CatsCoverage_) February 20, 2021
I don’t care what anyone says, this team can win the SEC tournament. They’re putting it together the last few weeks.— JD Hall (@tiffinwildcat) February 20, 2021
15 point lead at the half!!— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) February 20, 2021
This is Kentucky's largest halftime lead against Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena (15 points) since January 24th, 1998 (18 points)— Corey Price (@coreyp08) February 20, 2021
HALF: Kentucky 45, Tennessee 30.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) February 20, 2021
Davion Mintz: 15 points (5/5 threes)
Isaiah Jackson: 13 pts, 5/5 FTs, 2 blocks
UK: 17/28 FGs (60.7%)
What a half for the Cats.
Gotta keep that same energy second half. Last game, Tennessee came out with tough defense and adjustments. Hopefully Kentucky can keep shooting like this in the second half.— Conner (@connerjcaldwell) February 20, 2021
We've seen Kentucky put together good halves of basketball this season. Let's see if they can do it for 40 minutes.— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) February 20, 2021
Kentucky has its largest lead of the day at 58-38 with 11:58 to play.— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) February 20, 2021
11:58 2H - Kentucky 58, Tennessee 38— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) February 20, 2021
Cats 3/15 FG this half but take their biggest lead of the day as Vols are 2/9 FG.
UK is +11 on the glass.
This is not only the best game Kentucky has played all year, it's better than Kentucky played in any game last year.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) February 20, 2021
Please, for the love of god, do not grind these game to a halt Cal. Keep the up tempo flow going and this game is locked up.— Bryan the Intern (@BryantheIntern) February 20, 2021
"Everything is cooking right now for Kentucky."— Megan ★ Jameson (@megan_jameson) February 20, 2021
Hadn't heard that in a while
These teams are a combined 6-for-31 from the field with a combined 12 fouls in the first 10+ minutes of the second half. Cats still in control, 61-42, though.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) February 20, 2021
Kentucky really putting its foot down defensively at Tennessee. Vols trying to live on a steady diet of fadeaway and contested jumpers. Not going to work. Intimidating performance by the Wildcats thus far.— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) February 20, 2021
Toppin & Brooks have had a 30 to 35 point impact on this game even though they have combined for 14 points. Brooks is the Swiss Army knife. Toppin gives the defense a totally different look. I think he’s the perimeter lock down guy. @KentuckyRivals— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 20, 2021
Kentucky is 3 of 22 FG in the second half and have still outscored Tennessee by 2.— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) February 20, 2021
They’re gonna win this one stress free aren’t they?— Aaron Gershon (@agershon99) February 20, 2021
A good year for UK sports teams in Knoxville. The Cats pick up blowout wins in football and basketball over the Vols.— Derek Terry (@DerekSTerry) February 20, 2021
I don’t care what the end result is, I’m really happy for the guys on this team and what they’re accomplishing.— Angelo Carriero (@AngeloMediaLex) February 20, 2021
(I do feel bad for Clarke, Fletcher, and Allen, though) #BBN
Kentucky now just 1 game back of that No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. Would be big to get into that spot.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) February 20, 2021
So who wants to face Kentucky in the SEC Tournament in a few weeks? If the Cats can somehow find a way to get to the 4 seed it’s going to be very interesting.— Big Blue Express (@bigbluexpress) February 20, 2021
Just realized this is going to be the most significant SEC Tournament in the history of Kentucky basketball since the NCAA tournament expanded— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) February 20, 2021
Isaiah Jackson last 3 games:— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) February 20, 2021
14-24 FG (60.9%)
21-26 FT (80.8%)
157-75 all-time vs. Tennessee: ROUTINE pic.twitter.com/5MqcUaAAug— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 20, 2021
C-A-T-S! CATS! CATS! CATS!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 20, 2021
Kentucky DOMINATES No. 19 Tennessee in Knoxville! pic.twitter.com/qSVFyEQolC
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