(Photo by AP)
Allow me to sum up this game until the final minute: Momentum. Foul. Momentum. Foul. Momentum. Foul.
Each time Kentucky hit a big basket on the offensive end, they followed it up by either committing a foul or allowing Tennessee to keep pace by scoring. At various points in the game it felt like a Julius Mays 3-pointer, or a Nerlens Noel dunk was going to catapult Kentucky into a run leading to a runaway lead. Unfortunately the big run never came, but Kentucky was still able to distance themselves just enough late to secure the win in Rupp Arena tonight. Following two dismal SEC outings, Kyle Wiltjer became the go-to guy in the final few minutes, igniting the Wildcats by hitting a few key baskets down the stretch. Wiltjer was the leading scorer for Kentucky, finishing with 17 points. After a quiet first half, Nerlens Noel finished the game with 12 points, 9 rebounds, 6 blocks and 4 steals. Noel made all of the types of plays we have become accustomed to seeing from him: diving on the floor, coming up with loose balls, blocking/altering shots, etc.
Once again there was a bit of late game controversy following a should-have-been-called foul against Julius Mays, which set up for a flagrant offensive foul on Julius Mays. With an assist from the Rupp crowd, Tennessee missed both free throws.
Kentucky found themselves in what felt like a must-win situation against a struggling Tennessee team. The Cats made enough plays down the stretch to walk away with a 75-65 win. Kentucky moves to 2-1 in SEC play.