3. Men’s basketball beats Kentucky twice
The Tennessee Vols men’s basketball program was enjoying a historic run at No. 1 before they got hit with a dose of reality at Rupp Arena in February. In that game, the Kentucky Wildcats blew them out. Questions began to rise about how good this UT team truly was.
Rick Barnes made sure they answered that two weeks later. In a Saturday revenge matchup in Knoxville with UK, it was the Vols’ turn to dominate. They did just that, winning 71-52 behind 24 points from Grant Williams and 27 points from Jordan Bone, who was 5-5 from the three-point line. At that time, UT was No. 7 and UK was No. 4.
That set the stage for a rubber match in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, as the Vols and Wildcats were the No. 3 and 2 seeds respectively. At that point, UT was No. 8 and UK was No. 4. In a back and forth showdown, the Wildcats built a late lead.
Down by 8 with less than three minutes to go, the Vols appeared done. But that’s when their veteran leadership arose. Grant Williams got it going with two free throws. Then came a UK turnover that turned into a Williams layup with an and-one. After he made the free throw, PJ Washington and Admiral Schofield traded a two and a three-pointer.
All of a sudden, an 8-point lead was a 2-point lead. Then the Vols got the ball back and Williams, of all people, made a clutch three-pointer, to put them up by one. Another Washington bucket put UK back up, but the Vols followed with a three-pointer from Lamonte Turner. Up by two, they got another stop, and Jordan Bone closed it out with four free throws.
UT had come back to win 82-78, and they did it all after Kyle Alexander had fouled out. Williams and Schofield both hit the 20-point mark, and this made two straight seasons in which the Vols won two of three vs. the Wildcats. Despite the Gonzaga game, this was their best win all year.
Sure, they lost the next day to the Auburn Tigers. And yes, they suffered a heartbreaking loss in the Sweet 16. But this game, on this day, was a glorious feeling for everybody on Rocky Top and one of the best of the year.