The unranked Tennessee Volunteers (14-10, 6-6 SEC) made mincemeat of rival No. 25 Kentucky (17-8, 8-4 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville, running over the Wildcats in dominant fashion to come away with their 14th win of the season, 88-58.
The loss was not exactly what Kentucky had in mind for its first game after star big man Nerlens Noel was lost for the year with a torn ACL.
The Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker gave possibly the biggest news of the final result:
With the victory, Tennessee also avenged its 10-point loss from last month in Lexington.
Trae Golden (24 points and eight assists on 6-of-8 shooting) and company took advantage of the Nerlens Noel-less Wildcats, taking a big lead early and never looking back. The Vols led by 24 points heading into the locker room at halftime.
Kyle Wiltjer led UK with 18 points but hit just 5-of-15 from the floor. Willie Cauley-Stein, who replaced the injured Noel in the starting lineup, scored just two points, had four points and fouled out.
Sports radio host Mark Packer wasted little time poking fun at Kentucky:
Thankfully for John Calipari's 'Cats, Saturday's game eventually ended. When the dust settled, Kentucky had been thoroughly dominated in nearly every facet of the game. Tennessee won the battle on the boards, 33-20, and finished with 14 assists to Kentucky's eight.
But the biggest disparity was in field-goal percentage. While Tennessee hit 58 percent of its shots from the floor, Kentucky was able to connect on just 36 percent of its field goals.
Although Kentucky's players and coaches won't make any excuses for the loss, Zach Spear hit the nail right on the head:
TeamRankings.com points out the impact of Noel's absence on Saturday's rout:
Ryan Gooch attempted to offer a possible solution for Kentucky's poor performance while at the same time capturing the gist of Saturday's blowout:
Knoxville sports columnist John Adams presented another potential reason for Tennessee's inspired play against its rival:
Late in the game, the Wildcats finally broke the 50-point barrier, inspiring this tweet from Alan Cornett that put Tennessee's epic beatdown into perspective:
After Saturday's devastating loss, Sam Bernier is right—the Wildcats are going to need a strong finish to the year to earn a trip back to the Big Dance:
The SEC's Craig Pinkerton summed up Saturday's result with this shocking stat:
After Saturday's blowout defeat, Kentucky will return home to play its next three games against Vanderbilt, Missouri and Mississippi State. Tennessee will host LSU on Tuesday before taking on Texas A&M and No. 7 Florida to round out the month.
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