Explosive second half leads No. 11 Vols past Kentucky, 82-71
The win was Tennessee’s third in its last four trips to Lexington.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A combined 50 points from the freshman duo of Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson and a momentum-shifting 26-6 second half run propelled the No. 11 Tennessee basketball team past Kentucky, 82-71, on Saturday at Rupp Arena.
The Tennessee (13-4, 6-4 SEC) triumph made Rick Barnes the only active head coach to lead his team to at least three wins at Rupp Arena as the visitor.
The win was also the first time UT has beaten Kentucky (5-12, 4-6 SEC) in back-to-back games at Rupp Arena.
Johnson finished the night with an electric, team-leading and season-high 27 points—17 of which came in the second half—on 9-of-16 shooting and 9-of-11 from the foul line. The freshman standout also pulled down four rebounds and recorded a steal.
Springer concluded Saturday nights game with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, scoring 14 of his points in the second half, grabbing five rebounds and rejecting a season-high three shot attempts.
Sophomore stat sheet stuffer Josiah-Jordan James earned his first career double-double, finishing the night with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Junior Victor Bailey Jr. was the fourth Vol to reach double figures, scoring 11 points and pulling down four rebounds.
The Vols battled through foul trouble in the opening half, as Kentucky drew 15 fouls and went 13-of-15 from the line to take a 42-34 lead into the halftime break.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half were back-and-forth between the programs, before UT used a momentum shifting 12-0 run to take a slim 60-58 lead with just over eight minutes to play.
The Vols extended the run to 26-6 over a nine-minute span to take a 74-64 lead at the under-four-minute media timeout.
Tennessee withstood Kentucky over the final three minutes to close the night and cement the final result.
Victory at Rupp Common for Vols Under Barnes:
Rick Barnes has coached Tennessee to three wins over Kentucky at Rupp Arena in only six tries. With Saturday’s triumph, Barnes separated himself from the short list of coaches who own two visiting wins at Rupp—Mark Gottfried, Rick Pitino, Bill Self, Will Wade and Roy Williams.
Prior to Barnes, the last head coach to log at least three wins as the visitor at Rupp Arena was Billy Donovan, who led Florida to four wins there. Barnes is the only head coach—active or inactive—whose teams have won three times at Rupp during John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky.
27 the Magic Number for UT at Rupp: Keon Johnson backed up senior John Fulkerson’s career-high 27 point performance in last season’s victory in Rupp with 27 points of his own to lead UT past Kentucky on Saturday night.
Up Next: Tennessee returns to action for a Wednesday night home encounter with No. 22 Florida. Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is slated for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
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