Tennessee rallies from 21-point deficit to stun No. 20 Kentucky
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Punter Jr. scored 27 points, and Armani Moore added 18 points and 13 rebounds Tuesday night as Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit in an 84–77 upset of No. 20 Kentucky.
Tennessee's comeback represented a stunning turn of events for a team that had lost its last two games despite leading by at least 14 points in the second half of each. The Volunteers (11–11, 4–5 Southeastern Conference) trailed 34–13 with less than 6 minutes left in the first half.
This marked the second straight defeat for Kentucky (16–6, 6–3). The Wildcats fell 90–84 in overtime Saturday at No. 7 Kansas, which was ranked fourth at the time.
The score was tied 70–70 until Robert Hubbs III made a free throw with 5:04 left to start a 7–0 run that put Tennessee ahead for good. Kentucky couldn't cut the margin below three points the rest of the way.
Jamal Murray scored 21 points, and Tyler Ulis had 20 for Kentucky. Alex Poythress had 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
Detrick Mostella had 13 points, and Admiral Schofield added 11 points and eight rebounds for Tennessee.
Kentucky seemed on the verge of putting this game out of reach early.
The Wildcats made seven straight shots at one point and built a 34-13 lead over Tennessee, which looked overmatched. Tennessee used a 10–0 run to get within striking distance and cut Kentucky's lead to 42–36 by halftime.
Tennessee continued its rally when the teams got back on the court. Moore stripped the ball from Poythress and passed to Devon Baulkman for a dunk that opened the second-half scoring.
The Vols finally pulled ahead on Mostella's 3-pointer with 14:09 left. Kentucky regained the lead when Ulis and Derek Willis hit 3-pointers on the next two possessions, but Tennessee kept clawing back and regained the lead at 65–63 on Hubbs' basket with 9:41 remaining.
Kentucky tied the score at 70–70 but wouldn't lead again.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are 151–68 in this series. Kentucky has lost to Tennessee more than any other team.
Tennessee: Kyle Alexander, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward, made his third career start as Hubbs moved to the bench. Alexander, who started for the first time since Dec. 29, had tied a school record with six blocks Saturday in a 75–63 loss at TCU. Tennessee had been using a starting lineup with nobody taller than 6-5.
Kentucky: hosts Florida on Saturday.
Tennessee: is at Arkansas on Saturday.