It was a very slow offensive start for both teams as Kentucky held just a 4-2 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
The offense didn’t pick up much ahead of the under-12 timeout, but Kentucky was executing better than Tennessee while taking a 12-6 lead.
Over the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Cats completely dominated the Vols on both ends of the floor.
An Oscar Tshiebwe and-one dunk with just over 6 minutes to go gave Kentucky a 22-10 lead.
Down the stretch, Kentucky kept getting stops and converting on offense as they went into the break with a 39-19 lead.
The second half got off to a disastrous start as Kentucky turned it over three-straight possessions allowing the Vols to start on a quick 7-0 run.
After a Kentucky timeout, the Cats were finally able to put the ball in the basket and were holding onto a 45-31 lead at the under-16 timeout.
However, Santiago Vescovi was taking this game over in the second half as he scored 15 points early in the half and this was a 51-41 game with just under 12 minutes to go.
By the under-8 timeout, the Vols had made this a 57-48 ballgame with the Cats trying to hold on for a much-needed win.
Down the stretch, Kentucky didn’t make it easy on themselves but never let Tennessee get closer than 8 as they go on to win it 66-54.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the game:
Same five to start ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/sXl4YPWVQ7— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 18, 2023
Nothing like a CBS game.— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) February 18, 2023
Kentucky is defending its brains out again today against Tennessee. Vols now 1 of 10 with four turnovers in the first seven minutes.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) February 18, 2023
Rupp Arena is LOUD today!— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) February 18, 2023
One of the best atmospheres in college basketball for a big time game. #BBN
Kentucky recruit Justin Edwards gets a standing ovation from the Rupp Arena crowd. pic.twitter.com/HNEixBZM51— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) February 18, 2023
Kentucky's '96, '97 and '98 honored at halftime, Tubby Smith receives a standing ovation— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) February 18, 2023
Those who couldn't make it in person shared messages on the jumbotron. No Rick Pitino
Cason Wallace— Dylan Ballard (@DylanBallard_UK) February 18, 2023
Tennessee was gifted two extra possessions as officials make incorrect out of bounds calls.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) February 18, 2023
Tennessee hits a three on each possession.
It's going to be a fight until the end.
Uros Plavsic continues to be a dweeb.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) February 18, 2023
Vescovi becomes Manu Ginobli against us— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 18, 2023
Kentucky's got to find an answer for Vescovi, but the good news is, Tennessee had to shoot about 70% to slice the lead in half. Defense must improve but that's a tough number to maintain.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) February 18, 2023
We have a @wanda1erobinson sighting in Rupp Arena— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) February 18, 2023
Impressed with the maturation of Cason Wallace’s game. Tennessee extending defense, he is getting somewhere with his dribble, drawing help, then finding the open man. No panic so far for the freshman. @KentuckyRivals— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 18, 2023
Really just a masterclass performance being put on by the officiating crew here today— Ian Teasley (@ianteasley) February 18, 2023
Immanuel Quickley sitting behind the Kentucky bench today.— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) February 18, 2023
Kentucky has 18 points on dunks and layups today. Been really good at drawing attention and finding the open man down low.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) February 18, 2023
Lance Ware makes his first free throw since the Florida A&M game --- and it's a big one— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) February 18, 2023
Kentucky up 10 with 5:30 to go
Monster play Cason Wallace diving for a loose ball, wrestling it away, muscling it out of a pile to find a teammate. Tennessee seems to bring out the street fighter in this Kentucky team.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) February 18, 2023
This team refuses to make it easy. But do they refuse to lose?— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) February 18, 2023
Chris has been so good on the boards today. Team high 9 rebounds by the freshman. Getting better every game— Cody Couch (@Couch_29) February 18, 2023
This feels so good— Big Blue Nation #BBN (@UKBasketbalI) February 18, 2023
Massive double double from Livingston. Big rebound after big rebound this half.— Round Daddy (@JStreble82) February 18, 2023
Kentucky held Tennessee to 54 & 56 points in both matchups— Cody Couch (@Couch_29) February 18, 2023
In my opinion, Chris Livingston is the MVP today.— Hayden Hooper (@haydenhooper01) February 18, 2023
Eat it Vols— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 18, 2023
You can wear that L home. https://t.co/uRhvRNkR39— Big Blue Express (@bigbluexpress) February 18, 2023
Kentucky now owns all tiebreakers over both Tennessee and Texas A&M. That could matter for SEC Tournament scenarios if the Cats can stack some wins down the stretch. Getting a double-bye in Nashville is very possible now.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) February 18, 2023
Despite erratic performances, I've maintained the whole way that Kentucky would get itself into the NCAA Tournament. A season sweep of Tennessee has the Wildcats in the field for now with some elbow room.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) February 18, 2023
And Kentucky is now ahead of Tennessee in the SEC standings, to boot.
Get the out cuzzo gotta sweep them back to Knoxville @lanceware55 ️— Tyty Washington (@tytywashington3) February 18, 2023