"Billyball" may have finally arrived at
Patrick Patterson scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds as
the Wildcats knocked off No. 3 Tennessee 72-66 on Tuesday night.
Ramel Bradley had 16 points and Perry Stevenson added 14 points
and seven rebounds for Kentucky (8-9, 2-2 Southeastern Conference)
which held the Volunteers (16-2, 3-1) to just three field goals
over the final 10 minutes to snap their 11-game winning streak.
Playing with the kind of sustained effort first-year coach Billy
Gillispie has been preaching would come once his team was healthy,
Kentucky shut down the SEC's highest-scoring offense with a gritty
defensive performance that was the trademark of the teams Gillispie
coached at Texas A&M.
Tennessee star Chris Lofton led the Volunteers with 22 points,
knocking down five 3-pointers to set the SEC record for career 3s
with 367, breaking the mark held by former Arkansas guard Pat
Wayne Chism added 12 points and six rebounds and Ramar Smith had
10 points for the Volunteers, but Tennessee lost its composure
after building a 10-point lead early in the second half.
The Volunteers seemed ready to pull away after a dunk by Chism
gave them a 43-33 lead, but Kentucky rallied to tie the game at 50
on consecutive 3-pointers by Joe Crawford with just over 11 minutes
The teams spent the next 9 minutes trading the lead before the
Wildcats went ahead for good on two free throws by Bradley with
1:30 left that put Kentucky up 62-60.
Tyler Smith missed a 3-pointer - a common refrain for the
Volunteers in the final minutes - and Bradley hit two more free
throws to push the lead to four. Lofton then missed a rushed
3-pointer and Jodie Meeks hit two free throws to put it away.
Kentucky was 24-of-28 from the free throw line and shot 49
percent from the field.
Tennessee shot just 39 percent from the field, including 7-of-26
on 3-pointers. Take out Lofton's 5-of-10 effort from behind the
arc, and the rest of the Volunteers were just 2-of-16.
Gillispie knew his young, inexperienced squad couldn't run with
the Volunteers, so Kentucky spent most of the game grinding it out.
The Wildcats would run 25 to 30 seconds off the shot clock at
times, trying to shorten the game.
It worked despite the best efforts of Lofton. Mired in a
shooting slump for much of the season, Lofton didn't waste any time
heating up on the court where he became a high school legend. The
native of Maysville - about an hour northeast of Rupp Arena - gave
the Wildcats one last look at what they've been missing the last
He hit a 3-pointer 2 minutes in, then took advantage of some
overaggressive Kentucky defense by faking the jumper then slicing
through the lane for two layups. He ended the half in style, giving
the Volunteers a 36-30 lead with a fallaway 3-pointer just before
the horn sounded.