LEXINGTON, Ky. — Rupp Arena was rocking Saturday afternoon, with good reason. The No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats rolled over the No. 22 Tennessee Volunteers, winning 107-79 inside Rupp Arena.
Four Kentucky guards scored in the double digits, but its the team's collective statistics that really stood out Saturday. The Cats shot a blistering 68 percent from the floor and 61 percent from deep. UK set the pace and often made its opponent pay in transition, racking up 27 fast-break points and 36 points in the paint.
TyTy Washington Jr. led all scorers with 28 points in 36 minutes. In Sahvir Wheeler's first game back from injury, he served as Kentucky's primary point guard and finished with 21 points on 8-10 shooting while adding eight assists and two rebounds.
Kellan Grady added 16 points, hitting 4-of-7 three pointers, while Davion Mintz piled on ten more, including two treys. Oscar Tshiebwe finished with nine points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes.
Although no match for Kentucky's almost other-worldly offensive performance, Tennessee's numbers were commendable. The Vols shot 53 percent, up from their season average of 44 percent per game.
Kentucky controlled the game from the jump. After just about five minutes of action, the Cats were shooting 100 percent (5-5 from the floor and 2-2 from the three-point line), and Kentucky led 12-5. Despite the Wildcats aggression on offense, Tennessee's three-point shooting kept the game within reach during the first half. The Vols shot 6-13 from deep in the first 20 minutes of action, but finished 11-23 on the night.
Kentucky stretched its lead before halftime thanks to consecutive buckets by Washington, and the Cats entered the locker room with a 52-38 lead. At that point, the Cats were shooting 78.6 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from deep. Washington led all scorers with 14 points.
In the second half, the Cats held strong on offense, outscoring Tennessee 55-41 after the break. Kentucky's biggest lead of the day came with 8:18 left in the game, when the Cats held a 32 point advantage.
Jesus I’m watching a straight beat down. @KentuckyMBB looking really good.This team can be dangerous down the road. Go Big Blue.— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) January 15, 2022
Starting guard Santiago Vescovi led the way for Tennessee, finishing with 20 points.
Meanwhile, Rupp Arena kept Tennessee's starting forward John Fulkerson honest all game, loudly booing the big man who has scorched the Cats in the past. He drew both of Tshiebwe's first-half fouls, but finished with zero points.
Kentucky-Tennessee tips off NOW on ESPN pic.twitter.com/GGnbPl0kT9— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 15, 2022
In the minutes before tip-off, the basketball program and Big Blue Nation paid tribute to the late Joe B. Hall, who died Saturday morning at the age of 93.
As John Calipari made his way to Kentucky's bench, he held a rolled-up program, in classic Coach Hall fashion. Coach Cal also had his team play a 1-3-1 defense on its first possession in honor of the late coach.
In honor of Joe B. Hall 🗞 pic.twitter.com/D7yisGGsaa— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 15, 2022
The game also offered plenty of pageantry for the fans in attendance, including a warm welcome for Mark Stoops and a few members of this year's UK football team. They brought the Governor's Cup and Citrus Bowl trophies with them into Rupp Arena, and the crowd repaid them with a little "Grove Street Party."
The fan-favorite "Firecrackers" jump rope team performed at halftime, and UK Athletics Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion Danny Trevathan served as the honorary 'Y' in the second half. Kentucky tennis star Liam Draxl was also honored.
Kentucky's next game is on the road against Texas A&M Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.