Assuming the Volunteers can survive Frank Martin’s Gamecocks on Tuesday, Tennessee should arrive in Lexington next weekend as the number one ranked team in the country. This would only be the second time the Cats have faced a #1 ranked Vols team. The first came in 2008, when Tennessee was led by Maysville, KY native and SEC career 3-point leader Chris Lofton.
UT is Kentucky’s most common historical opponent, and with over 200 matchups between them, there are plenty of interesting factoids to piece through:
- You could argue the first game between these two rivals was UK’s best defensive performance in the series, since it was the only time either team could only muster single-digit points; Kentucky won 26-5 in 1910.
- UK’s 1000th win (the first NCAA program to do so) came in a 69-66 victory against Tennessee in Knoxville in 1969.
- The longest winning streak in the series? From February of 1950 to January of 1960, UK notched 20 straight victories over the Vols. Had Tennessee not won the January 14th, 1950 matchup, they would’ve gone through the entire 1950’s without a win over Kentucky.
- One player set to play this weekend is already in the rivalry record books. Grant Williams shares an honor with Marcus Haislip: most blocks by a Volunteer in a single game in the series with 4. Anthony Davis holds the overall single game series record with 7.
- UK and UT have faced off 225 times. Only 12 of those games went to overtime, with Tennessee leading that meta-matchup 7-5. So on the 5.3% chance Saturday’s game goes to OT, don’t count on history for help there.
- However, of the 16 times these two teams have met in the SEC Tournament, UK has won 12 of those. So regardless of the next two outcomes, you shouldn’t bet against the Cats come March.
(Stats courtesy of www.bigbluehistory.net)
History will be the focal point of next weekend’s game. Two long-feuding SEC foes set to have one of their most competitive wars to date. Time to write the next chapter.