Kentucky-Tennessee has always been a matchup to highlight on the schedule, for basketball at least. Now that we sit about a half hour from this season’s second installment of the rivalry, I thought it would be fun to look to back on some of my favorite moments from the rivalry:
2010 SEC Tournament — #2 Kentucky 74, #15 Tennessee 45
“How You Like Me Now”
One of my personal favorites in the modern version of the series because of what had happened previously that season. About 2 weeks before the SEC Tournament, Kentucky went down to Knoxville to face off against #19 Tennessee and left with a 74-65 loss that prompted Kentucky native Scotty Hopson to do his best impression of the “John Wall Dance” on the Thompson-Boling Arena court. Well, when Kentucky faced Tennessee in the rubber match at the SEC Seimifinals they turned the tables in a major way. After Tennessee had cut a 13-point lead to 8 to start the 2nd half, Kentucky, led by Demarcus Cousins with 19 points and 15 rebounds, held Tennessee to 4 points over the last 8 minutes of the game and proved to everybody watching who was in fact the better team that season.
January 13th, 2009 — Kentucky 90, Tennessee 72
You remember this one. Jodie Meeks came to Knoxville on a mission and proceeded to torch the Tennessee defense all night to the tune of 54 points, a school-record 10 3’s, and a thrashing of the rival Volunteers. It was also this game where Kentucky fans truly discovered the briiliance that is Jimmy Dykes and his savant-like ability to turn basketball strategies into a Dr. Suess book. Regardless, the greatest moment of the game came when Jodie Meeks stepped to the free throw line with 48 points and knocked down 2 free throws, at which point he looked at Tennessee guard and Allen Iverson doppelganger Bobby Maze and said “That’s Fifty.” You go, Jodie.
March 12, 1993 — #4 Kentucky 101, Tennessee 40
“The Wildcats Have Turned The Volunteers Into Kitty Litter”
Along the same lines as the 2010 SEC Tournament, the Tennessee Volunteers were riding high coming into the SEC Tournament in 1993, fresh off their upset of 2nd-ranked Kentucky in Knoxville 2 weeks before, 78-77. Once again, the Wildcats dominated the rubber match. The Wildcats raced out to a 41-17 halftime lead and never looked back, embarrassing the men in orange by putting 7 players in double figures, with a Freshman Tony Delk leading the way with 15. Kentucky used their infamous full-court press attack to force the Volunteers into a 23.1% showing from the field and 2-21 from 3PT range on their way to an SEC Championship and a Final Four appearance.
These were just a few of my personal favorites I could remember off the top of my head, share your favorite UK-UT moments in the comment section. Or just make fun of Bruce Pearl or Skylar McBee, I won’t stop you.