The Wildcats used a 25-7 surge over a little more than seven minutes for a 62-38 lead, providing a cushion that withstood the Volunteers’ 13-0 spurt soon after that cut the advantage in half.
Kentucky maintained a double-digit lead to win the highly anticipated matchup of top-five schools.
Kentucky (21-4, 10-2) also avoided a second consecutive SEC loss to stay within reach of co-leader Tennessee (23-2, 11-1), which hadn’t lost since Nov. 23 to No. 2 Kansas.
Washington scored Kentucky’s first seven points and finished 9 of 12 from the field for his seventh 20-point effort in the past eight games. Johnson made 8 of 14 with three 3-pointers as the Wildcats shot 55 percent.
Tyler Herro had 15 points and 13 rebounds as Kentucky beat Tennessee 39-26 on the glass.
Jordan Bone had 19 points and Admiral Schofield 17 for the Volunteers, who scored the game’s first basket but trailed afterward.
Tennessee shot 35 percent in the second half and 41 percent overall.
Tennessee will likely fall from atop the AP Top 25 with the loss.
Kentucky should move up a couple of spots with its biggest win this season.
Tennessee: The Volunteers never got a chance to take the three-game lead they sought against Kentucky and must wait for the March 2 rematch in Knoxville to get revenge. That will require improved shooting and rebounding after a game in which they struggled at both.
Kentucky: The Wildcats needed this win on many ways after letting No. 19 LSU off the hook and losing 73-71 on a disputed last-second tip-in. They still have ground to make up on the Volunteers but succeeded not only in getting ahead of Tennessee, but closing out the Vols.
Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt on Tuesday night, seeking a season sweep after escaping the Commodores 88-83 in overtime on Jan.
Kentucky visits Missouri on Tuesday night, looking to improve to 12-1 against the Tigers.
By GARY B. GRAVES , Associated Press