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Lessons learned from last year’s games vs. Tennessee

One of Tennessee’s biggest strengths is experience. With a plethora of upperclassmen, this Volunteers squad is practically a carbon copy of the one Kentucky faced three times last season, but with another year of growth and maturity.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what happened in those three games to determine Kentucky’s best strategy for Saturday.

January 6: No. 23 Tennessee 76, No. 17 Kentucky 65 (Knoxville)

Several Kentucky players were battling the flu, PJ Washington went down with cramps, and the refs were terrible. Excuses aside, the Cats got whipped, with Kevin Knox turning in one of the worst games of his Kentucky career.

KEY FACTOR: PJ Washington exiting the game with cramps. Before going to the locker room with 12 minutes left, PJ had 13 points and was winning his matchup with Grant Williams. Once PJ was out, Williams took over, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Afterwards, Williams admitted that PJ was in his head.

“He shut me down in the first half,” Williams said. “I’ll give it to him. He was in my head a little bit. I think the cramps hurt their team a lot. Just the fact they were playing with so much confidence when he was in the game.”

QUOTES: “They out toughed us,” Caliapri said. “They just threw us around. It was embarrassing. As soon as we had PJ out of the game, we had no shot of winning…When PJ went down, they saw a wounded animal and went right at them. We were literally standing with cheerleaders on a bunch of shots. ”


February 6: No. 15 Tennessee 61, No. 24 Kentucky 59 (Lexington)

Costly turnovers by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander resulted in a clutch three by Lamont Turner with 26 seconds left and the game-winning dunk by Admiral Schofield with four seconds left, the latter a cruel twist of the knife in what was an epic collapse by Kentucky.

KEY FACTOR: There were plenty of reasons Kentucky lost — Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo didn’t play well — but what people will remember most is Calipari’s decision NOT to call a timeout to set up a play in the final seconds. As a result, chaos ensued and the Cats took an L at Rupp.

QUOTES: “I make mistakes at the end and cost them the game,” Calipari said. “But I should have called a timeout. I don’t ever like to in those situations, but this is a different team. This team is too young. They’re just too young to know that what’s there and if they get in trouble just call a timeout.”


March 11: Kentucky 77, No. 13 Tennessee 72 (SEC Championship, St. Louis)

Unlike his last meeting with the Vols, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shined, finishing with 29 points and SEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Similarly, Kevin Knox played much better, turning in 18 points, including three threes. Kentucky led by as many as 17 in the first half, but Admiral Schofield brought Tennessee back into it, leading a 15-3 run to bring the Vols within five at half. From there, it was a back and forth battle, but Shai’s free throws with 2.4 seconds left clinched the victory.

KEY FACTOR: Shai. After costing the Cats in the last game vs. Tennessee, Shai took over this time around, hitting clutch bucket after clutch bucket to drag Kentucky to the win.

Also big: three-point shooting. Kentucky was 7-16 (43.8 percent) from behind the arc vs. 3-14 (21.4 percent) in Rupp a month prior. And any discussion of this game is incomplete without the clip of Sacha Killeya-Jones’ dunk:

QUOTES: “I think right now he’s playing his best basketball because he’s one of our leaders,” Kevin Knox said of Shai. He knows he’s getting better with the decision-making. Late in the game, he made some huge plays, knocked down some free throws, and found people. He’s also doing it on the defensive end. He’s really good defensively, and he’s playing really well right now.”


So, what lessons did we learn from last season about this Tennessee team?

  • PJ is capable of shutting Grant Williams down
  • Can’t get bullied in the post (paging Reid Travis)
  • Call the timeout if you need to, Cal
  • Hit threes
  • Strong guard play is key
  • Random dunks by big men off the bench are good omens

We got this.

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Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

33 Comments for Lessons learned from last year’s games vs. Tennessee



  1. Wade
    6:19 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    Cal said this team is too young that’s why he needed to call a to but didn’t in second loss!Funny! This is a dif team. Hope cal learned, we need a win!



  2. Bigblue7982
    6:25 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    Cats by 5.



  3. BigBlue4Three
    6:29 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    Pray there is no Cokehead Ron Groover officiating. That is all.



  4. krautdog
    7:13 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    Guard the perimeter better too. Tennessee is a very good 3pt shooting team & we struggle to defend the perimeter shots.



    • michaelb
      7:57 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

      Bone is coming into his own yea, but he still lacks consistency. He’s heated up in 5-7 games . Maybe we can dodge the bullet that is 3pt shooter Bone



  5. michaelb
    7:56 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    I’m glad you posted this . I’ve been milling around these type notions in my head all week . An important one that I remember is this : being physical with grant Williams REALLY throws him off his game . Last year when pj went out SKJ came in and hit grant with a sharp elbow to the jaw , that basically was the end of the game . The same goes for this year . The hand full of Tennessee games I’ve watched this year . Grant spends a lot of time complaining to the refs when he gets hit , bumped , scratched anything . So there ya go . Rough him up a bit at the beginning to get a nice little start & claim more of that real estate in his head . Sounds elementary (frankly cause it is) but I believe that’s how you go about this game . Admiral and grant feed off one another & that makes this semi strategy loom successful



  6. Wade
    9:30 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    Let’s just be tough and confident!



  7. KYfaninTN
    10:08 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    If the cats can hit 6 or more threes a game they beat any team in the country.



  8. Smyrna_Cat
    11:34 pm February 14, 2019 Permalink

    It is hard for one team (this one) to learn from another team’s (last years) mistakes.



    • mashburnfan1
      12:33 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      Exactly what I was going to post. Hard to learn lessons when all but 1 {basically since Richards now sits} player was not even in any of those games and some probably did not even know they would be CATS at the time these games were played. Maybe PJ can try to tell them what is needed.



    • mashburnfan1
      12:39 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      I guess that works both ways though, UT really does not know what it takes to beat this current group.



    • catsarerunnin
      7:33 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      And I’m sure you will be rooting on the orange bashburn/BigolBlew/Excuses/Slater.



    • CATandMONKEY
      10:42 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      To be begrudgingly fair, Mash’s reply#2 is his most positive post in 18 months.



  9. VirginiaCat
    12:58 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

    The fact that the majority of our players are brand new to the Tennessee rivalry and that their team is pretty much the same….well…it says something about how the two programs approach recruiting.



    • runningunnin.454
      9:21 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      And, Tennessee is in contention for a national basketball title every ? years. 30 years, 50 years, 75 years…never?
      They are in contention for an NIT title every ? years.



    • 4everUKblue
      9:46 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      Lol, VA cat just got owned again!



  10. BigolBlue
    1:01 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

    This team can shoot. Tennessee too experienced.
    Tenn 82
    UK 67



    • UKWildcatNation
      2:15 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      Tennessee is the number 1 team in the country for a reason, they are REALLY good and can beat anyone on any floor. But if you are so certain of a BEATDOWN like you predict at Rupp will you have the stones enough to come and post that you were wrong if UK wins??



    • BigolBlue
      2:49 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      I post win or lose. Slater conquers all. Don’t forget that



    • catsarerunnin
      7:35 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      But you have conquered your multi personalities problem that you have. Who are you today??



    • StillBP
      7:28 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      lol 15 points. You are so dumb. Sure, Duke beat us down, but no one the rest of the season will be us by double digits. We’ve lost 3 games by 2 points or less.



    • 4everUKblue
      7:37 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      BigolSlaterMedic aka No more excuses aka big cat does concur all idiocy that’s for sure. He does post win or lose and neither ever is above the IQ of a slug.



  11. kyfrydaddy
    2:46 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

    Can someone, anyone at all, explain to me why BigolePuss even comes to this website or posts comments being that everything is negative nelly and condescending? I like reading everyone’s comments but I about PUKE in my mouth every time I even see that name! Really wish someone could come up with an address for this fool if you know what I mean…..



    • StillBP
      7:30 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      He likes the attention. His comments are so outrageous that someone is going to give him the attention he desires.



    • 4everUKblue
      7:39 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      BigolSlaterMedic is actually a UofLittleBro fan, his brother is a UK fan, his brother posted on here the other day that he doesn’t believe any of the nonsense he posts, he just likes getting under our skin. If I were a UofLittleBro fan I would focus on someone else’s program too.



    • catsarerunnin
      9:06 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

      He comes here to troll because he isn’t a UK fan. It would be best to ignore him but I enjoy revealing his massive stupidity.



    • UK Big Board Update
      12:32 pm February 15, 2019 Permalink

      They refuse to block these people for some reason.



    • BigolBlue
      1:33 pm February 15, 2019 Permalink

      Ohh sorry poor babies. Why because I think Tenn is a better team and they will win? Or that Cal is an overrated politician who wont win anymore titles and you blue tinters worship him



    • 4everUKblue
      7:57 pm February 15, 2019 Permalink

      I’d focus on nay other fanbase if I were a UofLittleBro fan too BigolSlaterMedic.



  12. CahillsCrossingNT
    9:24 am February 15, 2019 Permalink

    Barnes is 6-5 vs Calipari in his career overall, 4-4 while at UT. I think UT will win because their experience will prove a little too much.



  13. Skooms
    6:45 pm February 15, 2019 Permalink

    Honestly win or lose, I bet they play better at TN than they do at home tomorrow. That doesn’t mean they lose, just that Herro and Johnson seem to thrive in hostile environments. Well Herro definitely does, but Keldon has had some really good road games too.



  14. Luether
    11:38 pm February 15, 2019 Permalink

    Good post, Mrs TT…