Cats overwhelm #1 Tennessee 86-69

Cats overwhelm #1 Tennessee 86-69
P.J. Washington (Source: UK Athletics)

LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - #5 Kentucky opened the second half on a 14-0 run to extend a six point halftime lead in a 86-69 win over #1 Tennessee.

The loss snapped the Volunteers 19 game winning streak, It was the first time in 226 meetings that both teams were ranked in the top five.

PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson each scored 13 points in the first half. The Cats went right back to Washington to open the second and he delivered again with a jump hook. That was followed by a Tyler Herro three and the blowout was on.

Johnson, who at one point in the first half, scored 11 straight UK points, took a feed from Ashton Hagans and drove in for two to cap the run and put the Cats up 51-31. Tennessee did not score a field goal in the second half until an Admiral Schofield tip in with 15:17 left in the game.

A Reid Travis jump hook gave the Cats their biggest lead at 24. Travis batted reigning SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams all night in the post.

Tennessee mounted a rally midway through the half. Schofield’s three got them within 62-49. He added two free throws to make it 62-51 with 8:49 left. It was 13-0 spurt. They got as close as 11 a few times in the final minutes.

Kentucky answered by going inside to Washington. His basket stopped the rally. Washington finished with 23 points, hitting 9-12 from the field. Johnson added 19. Herro had 15 and a career-high 13 rebounds. Reid Travis had 11 and 8 rebounds. Jordan Bone lead Tennessee with 19.

“You know, what makes me happy is when I’m hearing people call me and say, Cal, he’s the most improved guy in the country. Like he is it. And a big part of that was conditioning and toughness and focus,” UK head coach John Calipari said about Washington’s performance. “And when you understand that it’s not going to be easy and there’s no easy road, that I’ve got to compete every day, you probably got it licked because you’re competing against yourself. You’re trying to conquer yourself. PJ finishes first in every run we do right now. Every run we do,”

The Cats improve to 21-4, 10-2 in the SEC. Tennessee falls to 23-2, 11-1. It was Kentucky’s first win over the #1 in the nation since beating Ohio State in the 62-60 in the 2011 East Region Semifinals.

Kentucky now leads the all-time series 155-71.

The Cats visit Missouri (12-12, 3-9) on Tuesday at 9 p.m.

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