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Wildcats’ free-throw shooting was pivotal in thrilling win over Volunteers

Kentucky got the job done, and its free-throw shooting was a huge reason why.

Adou Thiero Isamu Haynes-Sunayama - A Sea Of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats were in a major slump entering Saturday’s matchup with the top-five Tennessee Volunteers. The Cats opened as 13-point underdogs, their largest margin as a dog in the John Calipari era.

Having lost two in a row and four of their last seven, the Cats were not expected to pull out a win in Knoxville, but they did just that, holding Tennessee to just 56 points despite starting the game down a quick 8-0.

Kentucky used free-throw shooting to its advantage. It was a remarkable 22/25 from the stripe, which, as you can see, is something to marvel at for a Calipari-led roster.

And it wasn’t like all these makes were made by a few guys. Six different players attempted at least two free throws, the high man being Antonio Reeves going 8/8.

The second-best shooter? None other than Adou Thiero, who went 4/4 while playing extended minutes with Sahvir Wheeler out and Cason Wallace battling foul trouble and back issues.

Kentucky ranks 291st in the nation in free-throw shooting at 67.4%, so it certainly hasn’t been a strength of this team. The Cats also don’t get to the line too often, ranking 170th in the nation in free-throw attempts per game at 17.8.

Going 22/25 was huge for the Cats was massive, and if that’s something that continues further into conference battles, they should be able to start stringing wins together and make a stronger case for an at-large big come March.