Tennessee basketball: Vols had one terribly bad night in Rupp Arena

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - FEBRUARY 16: Kyle Alexander #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on February 16, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - FEBRUARY 16: Kyle Alexander #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on February 16, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The program record-breaking 19-game win streak is over. Tennessee basketball failed to show up in the 79-55 loss. Here are three takeaways from the game.

The No.1 Tennessee basketball team got bullied.

Ashton Hagans delivered a way-too-easy drive to the bucket to end the first half that gave Kentucky a 37-31 lead. The only other time Tennessee basketball trailed at the half this season was at Florida.

It was bad from the opening tip. Tennessee turned the ball over on their first possession and settled for more jumpers than they have the entire season.

Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner, and Admiral Schofield shot a combined 0-for-8 from the three-point line in the first half. Some attempts were great shots and just didn’t fall, but some were rushed after one pass in the offensive set.

Early on it was all P.J. Washington. The SEC Player of the Year candidate scored the first seven points of the game for the Wildcats. He continued to get whatever he wanted, and it didn’t matter who was guarding him.

Vols tried Schofield on him, and Washington went over the top. They tried Williams on him, and Washington yet again just went over the top. Tennessee didn’t have an answer for him or the rest of the Wildcats.

The second half started out as a disaster. The Vols started 0-4 from the floor with two turnovers, and Kentucky rattled off a 14-0 run to go up 51-31.

However, the Vols fought back and had a chance to cut the led down to ten just under eight minutes to go. But, the deficit was just too much to overcome. Here are three takeaways from the game.

1. Kentucky played bigger, stronger, and harder

Kentucky played their best game of the season. And, it just so happens Tennesee played their worst game.

Kentucky played harder.

Kentucky had more hustle.

Kentucky wanted it more.

Sure, the refs weren’t the best. But, don’t confuse bad calls with a lack of effort. That’s the most surprising part of this loss. This veteran team got outplayed for the first time all season.

The Cats finished with 12 offensive and 27 defensive boards. They outrebounded the Vols 39-to-26.

We knew Tennessee had to make an effort to keep Kentucky off the glass, but they just couldn’t do it.

2. Vols got shook and settled for jumpers

I can’t tell you how many times Jay Bilas said, “the aggressor is getting the whistle.” That was evident with 14:53 left in the game when Kentucky was in the bonus.

We mentioned that the Wildcats were great defensively in protecting the rim just like Tennessee. They made it difficult for Grant Williams to get going. They made it difficult for the Vols to even get him the ball. The Vols didn’t even attempt a single free throw in the first half.

That made the three-point jumper the shot that was settled for. And, it wasn’t Tennessee’s night from deep. Lamonte Turner decided it was his night to shoot as many three-point jumpers as possible going 0-for-7.

Admiral Schofield, who has been great at getting to the rack the past few games, took six three-point jumpers, connecting on just one.

The Vols as a whole shot 7-for-25, 35.8 percent from deep.

3. We knew a loss was coming, just not like that

Tennessee losing the game doesn’t matter, as much as how they lost. We saw a little fight late in the second half, but most of the game was a lack of effort.

Kentucky shot better from the floor. 54.7% – 40.7%.

They shot better from the three-point line. 38.5% – 28.0%.

They shot more free throws. 33-to-18.

They pulled down more rebounds. 39-to-26.

They dished out more assists. 14-to-11.

They had more steals. 6-to-4.

They had more blocks. 6-to-1.

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The SEC race tightens with Tennessee and LSU tied at the top with an 11-1 conference record. Kentucky follows close behind with a 10-2 record. The Vols are back in action on Tuesday night as the Vanderbilt Commodores head to Thompson-Boling Arena for the second matchup of the season.