The rivalry between Tennessee basketball and the Kentucky Wildcats will add another chapter Saturday. Here is our preview for the Volunteers.
After a huge road win over the Alabama Crimson Tide to get back on the right track earlier this week, Tennessee basketball returns home for a major opportunity Saturday. The Vols will host their hated rival.
John Calipari’s No. 15 ranked Kentucky Wildcats travel to Knoxville to face Rocky Top in a nationally televised Saturday afternoon matchup. This basketball rivalry has really taken a hot turn in recent years with the emergence of UT under Rick Barnes, and it should be exciting again Saturday.
At 13-9 overall, Barnes’ team moved back above .500 in the SEC, to 5-4, with their win earlier this week, and they broke a three-game losing streak in the process. Here is all the information you need for Tennessee basketball’s matchup.
No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats at Tennessee Volunteers
When: Saturday, Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Thompson-Boling Arena; Knoxville, Tenn.
Live stream: CBSSports.com
Kentucky is typical Kentucky under Calipari. Of course, they did have that dramatic upset loss to Evansville earlier this year. And they lost to the Utah Utes and Ohio State Buckeyes in December. But at 17-5 overall and 7-2 in SEC play, they have won nine of their last 11, including a big win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs earlier this week.
UK’s only two conference losses are on the road, to the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Auburn Tigers. Now, that is good news for the Vols, as they beat S.C. at home, so they may have a chance against this team.
Over the last two years, the Vols have won four of six games against the Wildcats, as the two have met three times each season due to SEC Tournament matchups. They have also won all four meetings in Knoxville with Barnes at the helm.
One major setback for UT, though, is the fact that Josiah-Jordan James is again unlikely to play. He didn’t play in Tuesday’s win at Alabama, but Kentucky is obviously a different animal, even if it is back in Knoxville.
Barnes and co. still need a couple of major quality wins to build on their resume if they are to have any NCAA Tournament hope. This begins a brutal stretch to the end of the season for them, as they are in the midst of 10 of their final 11 games being against top 100 RPI teams along with eight of their next nine teams.
Beyond that, Tennessee basketball has six of its next nine games against top 30 RPI teams. Opponents include the Arkansas Razorbacks twice, Kentucky twice and the Auburn Tigers twice. So there will be chances for the Vols to score a few quality wins, but the season could unravel as well. This game is their first test.