Home Sweet Home: Tennessee Knocks Off Kentucky Wildcats In SEC Thriller

Old AccountSenior Writer IFebruary 27, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 13:  John Calipari the Head Coach of the Kentucky Wilcats talks with DeMarcus Cousins #15 during the SEC game against the Tennessee Volunteers on February 13, 2010 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With two weeks left until Selection Sunday, Judgement Week was in full force at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The 17th ranked Volunteers, one of the more unpredictable teams in the nation, was looking for a statement win before the NCAA Tournament began.

And they accomplished that, defeating the No. 2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats 74-65.

This game was Tennessee's game to lose, leading the Wildcats by 19 at one point, 11 at halftime.

That did not stop arguably the nation's best team from almost pulling out the win, however.

Going on two runs in the second half to bring the game in single digits, the Wildcats looked to see another SEC game fall right in their hands.

In the second half, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins turned the table.

Wall went on a tear in the second half, finishing with 19 points, 6 steals, and five rebounds.

Cousins, on the other hand, was a dominant force on the glass, which brought Kentucky back into this game. He finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

However, key mistakes were made by Wall which proved to be the end for the Wildcats.

A turnover and a charging foul within the final minute propelled Tennessee to go on a 9-0 run to end the game.

The upperclassmen stepped it up for the Volunteers, led by senior J.P Prince.

Prince not only led the team in scoring, but made two clutch free-throws which made the difference.

Earlier on ESPN's College Gameday, Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight said the Volunteers were looking to improve their seeding heading into the tournament.

Well, we saw a glimpse of what Tennessee can bring to the table in a full-court effort, something that Kentucky could not handle.

Avoiding losses to Alabama in overtime, and at Vanderbuilt showed the toughness and heart Kentucky has.

Yet, facing a double digit deficit, along with key mistakes in the final minutes, ended the Wildcats run.

Now, how does this affect the rest of the nation?

You must figure Kansas, who will be facing off versus Oklahoma St. later today, can inch closer to the top overall seed with a win.

Even though Kentucky is still poised for a number one seed, the winner of the Big East Showdown between Syracuse and Villanova might make a better case for themselves.

The Duke Blue Devils, who look to be the clear favorite to win the ACC, can also improve their chances.

We can sense that March Madness is nearing, with top ten teams going down, and conference tournaments getting tighter.

The Tennessee Volunteers greatly improve their chances at a two or three seed with this statement win over Kentucky, which should be only the beginning once the Big Dance comes around.


Matt Miselis is a Featured Columnist for BleacherReport.com. He will bring daily analysis on March Madness during the conclusion of the Big Dance.