LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s the most anticipated match up of the season in the Southeastern Conference. #1 Tennessee visits Rupp Arena on Saturday night.
The #5 Cats saw their 10-game winning streak on Tuesday night, a 71-69 loss to #19 LSU on a controversial tip in at the buzzer. Now they face a Tennessee team that is 23-1 and riding a 19 game winning streak.
“They’re not going to beat themselves. They’re physical. They fight for second and third opportunities to rebound,” UK head coach John Calipari said. "We’re struggling with rebound attempts right now. They are going three and four jumps at a ball. If you don’t block out they’re jumping over your back. I mean, they’re going to tip and grab. They’re good. They deserve to be the No. 1 team, and they deserve to have the winning streak they have.”
Freshman point guard Ashton Hagans, who fueled the Cats winning streak, played just 21 minutes in the loss to LSU. It was a low over the last 17 games. He had just four points and one assist against the Tigers.
“Probably hit a wall as a freshman. Probably hit a wall," Calipari said. "You look at it and just say, you understand this is all happened in 10 days, 12 days. So, if you want it back, what were you doing 10 and 12 days ago that you’re not doing now? Just change it.”
The Vols are lead by 6′7″ junior Grant Williams. He is averaging 19.4 points a game, 7.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Williams is the front runner to repeat as SEC Player of the Year. He scored 43 points in a win at Vanderbilt on January 23.
Admiral Schofield, a 6′6″ senior, averages 16.7 points a game.
“This is one where were going to learn about ourselves as a group, especially after getting beat,” Calipari said. "We got beat. Don’t let the other side show stuff get to you; they beat us. If it went to overtime, they probably would have beaten us in overtime. So how do we respond? It will say a lot about who we are.”
The Cats and Vols tip off at 8:05 p.m. Saturday night in Rupp Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN.