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Kentucky Needs A Win, But Tennessee Needs It More

When Tennessee visits Rupp Arena on Tuesday night, a lot will be on the line for both teams. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin is looking for his first win over Kentucky in his second year on the job. The Vols are also looking for their first SEC win this year after dropping their first two conference games to Ole Miss and Alabama. Including a loss to Memphis to end their non-conference schedule, the Vols have dropped three straight and enter Tuesday night’s game with an 8-6 record. While Kentucky may be sitting squarely on the bubble, Tennessee isn’t even on the bubble. 

In the short term, both teams need a win. Both are currently struggling and trying to get back on the right path while the SEC is still wide open for anyone’s taking. In the long term, a win for Tennessee would do much more good for their program than it could for Kentucky. Cuonzo Martin is trying to build something at Tennessee. He is trying to re-establish the excitement around the program that was there under Bruce Pearl before a barbecue went terribly wrong. Calipari, even though his young team is struggling to find its way this season, is coming off a National Championship and already has what is believed to be his best class ever signed for next season. So no, the sky is not falling in Lexington. Kentucky’s long-term status at or near the top of the mountain of college basketball is not going to be threatened if this team falls short of Calipari’s first three teams.

When every team enters Rupp Arena this year or hosts the Cats, it is still their biggest game of the season. Every road loss outside of maybe Gainesville will be followed by students rushing the court. Any other loss given to the Cats in Rupp Arena will be the highlight of anyone’s season, and that includes ranked Florida and Missouri. All of this holds true for Tuesday night’s tilt with Tennessee and it will continue to be true every game for the rest of the season, whether UK is ranked or not.

Kentucky really needs a win Tuesday night, but Tennessee still needs it more. Cuonzo Martin needs it more. The Tennessee program needs it more. Their future needs it more. All of this could be repeated and still be true for most of Kentucky’s remaining opponents, so buckle up. SEC play is going to be a wild ride. 

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

11 responses to “Kentucky Needs A Win, But Tennessee Needs It More”

  1. Tim

    Who said we’re going to lose any on the road? It’s not like we’re suiting up Michael Porter. This team has talent and sooner or later the light will come on for them. It might be Tuesday night.

  2. jeremy

    a victory over UK doesn’t mean that much this year. I think its time we stop all this nonsense talk about how powerful we are going to be in March. At this rate, we will be lucky to be playing in March unless it at the Garden.

    This team is what it is. There will not be some magical light bulb that goes off and suddenly we are an elite team. They’ve had plenty of time to gel and have shown little progress. They are NOT the same kind of team as Cal’s second group and they’ve shown their upside isn’t so ‘up’. Any wins they get from here on out are gravy but I’ve decided to not get emotionally involved with these guys. They will just break your heart.

  3. Ridge Runner

    We will lose. We have a sorry team this year.

  4. Drew's Dad

    I am wearing blue to reverse.the curse on the Vols…….Oh never mind, both of these teams suck!!!


    Sounds like you want us to root for UT. Stop doing that.

  6. Tennessee Wildcat

    What are you talking about, John, Kentucky always needs a victory more than any other team. That’s why we are die hard Kentucky fans. We never root for the orange people from the hills of east Tennessee. Living in Tennessee, the two games are the big games of the year for me. I need bragging rights against all of the UT folks that live nearby. Go Big Blue!

  7. BigBlue88

    I think the point is that it’s going to be another hard game. Tennessee does need it more, even though Kentucky really needs it as well. All the SEC games are going to be tough.


    VOLS BY 5!!!

  9. Jughead

    Vandy lost big to Arkansas. UK barely beat Vandy. This does not bode well for Jerry Tipton.

  10. lou

    Since the 1950’s I cannot recall a time when I did not believe UK would beat an upcoming opponent like UT. NOW, I think anyone can clean our clock on any night at Rupp or on the road. Simply an amazing scenario given all the fanfare these freshmen had coming in this year…Frankly, I expect UT to win since our guys cannot get up for any game for any opponent…I’ve never seen such erratic play in 50+ years watching UK teams,,,truly a remarkable happening…..

  11. Jughead

    So—Wiltjer cannot defend, and he is useless unless his shots drop. Nevertheless, can someone give him the key to the weight room so he doesn’t look like a gay Pillsbury Dough Boy?