KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Bone scored a career-high 27 points and No. 7 Tennessee beat No. 4 Kentucky 71-52 on Saturday to maintain its home-court dominance and snap the Wildcats’ four-game winning streak.
Tennessee (26-3, 14-2 SEC) earned its 25th straight home victory to remain tied for first place in the Southeastern Conference with No.
13 LSU — the Tigers beat Alabama 74-69 earlier in the day. The Volunteers haven’t lost a home game since falling 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2, 2018.
The Vols also beat Kentucky (24-5, 13-3) at home for a fourth straight year to delight a sellout crowd in the first regular season matchup of top-10 teams at Thompson-Boling Arena since the facility’s 1987 opening. Tennessee is 4-0 at home against Kentucky under coach Rick Barnes.
Tennessee avenged an 86-69 loss at Kentucky on Feb. 16 that snapped the Volunteers’ school-record 19-game winning streak and dropped them out of the No. 1 ranking.
The Vols held Kentucky without a basket for a 9 ½-minute stretch in the first half and stayed in control the rest of the way.
Bone made all five of his 3-point attempts and shot 11 of 15 to lead the onslaught. Grant Williams added 24 points.
PJ Washington scored 13 points but was the lone Kentucky player in double figures as the Wildcats lost for just the second time in 16 games.
The game went back and forth for the first 10 minutes, and a basket by Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson cut Tennessee’s lead to 17-16 with 10:23 left in the first half. But the Wildcats didn’t get another basket until Jemarl Baker sank a 3-pointer with 51 seconds remaining in the half.
Kentucky missed 12 straight field-goal attempts as Tennessee went on a 17-4 run that was capped by an alley-oop from Williams to Jordan Bowden.
During that spurt, Kentucky coach John Calipari received a technical foul for complaining after Nick Richards picked up his third foul.
Kentucky’s EJ Montgomery already had three fouls by then.
Tennessee led 37-24 at halftime and stayed in front by at least 13 the rest of the way.
Kentucky: The Wildcats had won their first two games without injured forward Reid Travis, but they really felt his absence Saturday as their frontcourt players struggled to stay out of foul trouble and couldn’t contain Williams. Travis sprained his right knee in a victory over Missouri on Feb. 19. Montgomery had filled Travis’ spot in the starting lineup for wins over Auburn and Arkansas. Richards got that assignment Saturday and made his first start since Nov. 23. Richards ended up with eight points and seven rebounds, while Montgomery had two points and five boards.
Tennessee: Barnes said this week Kentucky was tougher than Tennessee in the first matchup between these teams. That wasn’t the case Saturday. Tennessee outscored Kentucky 28-10 in the paint and blocked five shots after having just one in the loss at Rupp Arena. One concern is the ongoing foul trouble of Kyle Alexander, who went scoreless and played just 12 minutes before picking up his fifth foul.
Kentucky is at Mississippi on Tuesday.
Tennessee hosts Mississippi State on Tuesday.
By STEVE MEGARGEE, Associated Press