LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Fulkerson scored a career-high 27 points, and Yves Pons made several key jumpers down the stretch as Tennessee rallied from a 17-point deficit to upset No. 6 Kentucky 81-73 on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (24-6, 14-3 Southeastern Conference) appeared in control leading 51-34 early in the second half before the Volunteers (17-13, 9-8) outscored them 29-9 over 10:09 to lead 63-60. Kentucky tied it at 63, but Pons answered with a 3-pointer and Fulkerson added two free throws to stay ahead.
Pons then added consecutive jumpers to make it 72-66 with 1:48 left. Nick Richards' two free throws cut the lead to four, but Josiah-Jordan James put back his missed jumper to make it a six-point game again with 1:05 left.
James then made three free throws and Santiago Vescovi added two more in the final minutes to seal Tennessee's second consecutive victory and just its sixth at Rupp Arena. Pons finished with 15 points.
Fulkerson made 10 of 15 from the field and all seven free throws to top his previous best of 25 against South Carolina on Feb. 15.
Tyrese Maxey had 21 points and Immanuel Quickley 15 for Kentucky.
Tennessee: The Vols could have wilted after Kentucky built the big lead, but they stayed with it and outhustled the Wildcats on both ends. Fulkerson's hot shooting kept them in the game before others got involved in the second half and knocked down big shots. They finished 53% from the field.
Kentucky: Just when the Wildcats appeared in gear and headed toward their 16th consecutive home win, they got sloppy with the ball and missed shots. They followed up 55% shooting before halftime with just 33% in the second and saw their winning streak end at eight games.
Kentucky can recover Saturday at Florida, but this loss hurt its chances of cracking the top five.
Tennessee seeks a season split at home Saturday against No. 17 Auburn, which is tied for second with LSU.
Kentucky aims to complete a season sweep on Saturday at Florida, which looks to regroup from a loss to the Volunteers.