Knoxville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Tied for the best start in school history, top-ranked Kentucky looks to rewrite the record books on Tuesday evening, as the Wildcats take on the Tennessee Volunteers in an SEC showdown at Thompson- Boling Arena.
John Calipari's Wildcats have dominated the competition for the most part this season. That includes Saturday's 77-43 whipping of South Carolina in Lexington. With the win over the Gamecocks. Kentucky moved to 25-0 on the season, matching the 1953-54 squad. The only undefeated team in the country, UK is now 12-0 in league play, sitting with a comfortable three-game lead in the conference standings.
Donnie Tyndall's first season at the helm of Tennessee has come with mixed reviews. the Volunteers are 14-10 overall and an even 6-6 in conference play. However, the team has lost three of its last four games, including Saturday's 73-55 setback to LSU. The Vols are a solid 9-4 in Knoxville this season.
Kentucky holds a massive 150-67, but the series in Knoxville has been much closer, with the Wildcats holding a narrow 51-47 advantage.
The Wildcats are fueled by dominant play at the defensive end of the floor. The team ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (51.8 ppg) and blocked shots (177), while tops in the country in both field-goal percentage defense (.338) and scoring margin (+21.8). No one puts up huge scoring totals usually. but rather, the team enjoys a variety of contributors most times out. Aaron Harrison remains the top scoring threat at 11.1 ppg. Devin Booker is a close second with 10.8 ppg, while Willie Cauley-Stein (9.4 ppg) and Karl-Anthony Towns (9.1 ppg) are just under double figures, but they are better known as defensive stalwarts in the paint, combining for just under 13 rebounds per game, while being responsible for 97 of the team's 177 blocked shots.
Kentucky has outrebounded its last three opponents by 42 boards and that includes a 45-21 advantage against the outmanned Gamecocks on Saturday. The Wildcats delivered on 50 percent of their shots, while South Carolina managed to knock down a meager 23.6 percent. Cauley-Stein led the way with 14 points and seven rebounds. Aaron Harrison added 11 points to the cause, while Dakari Johnson chipped in 10 off the bench.
LSU jumped out to a huge lead, shooting 64 percent from the floor in the first half and taking a 47-20 edge into the intermission before cruising to victory at Thompson-Boling Arena. The hometown Vols managed to shoot a mere 36.8 percent from the floor in the 18-point loss. Armani Moore was one of the few Vols to have a solid game, posting 16 points and eight rebounds. Josh Richardson tacked on 15 points, while Derek Reese finished with 11.
The Volunteers have struggled at times at the offensive end, not an encouraging thought with the stingy Wildcats coming to town. Tennessee is averaging a pedestrian 64.2 ppg this season on just .432 shooting. The Volunteers have done a nice job in limiting and forcing miscues, enjoying a +2.3 turnover margin. Richardson is the top offensive threat on the roster and ranks fourth in the conference at 16.0 ppg. The 6-foot-6 senior also leads the team in assists (3.7 apg). Moore is next in the scoring column at 10.7 ppg, while leading the way on the boards (6.8 rpg). Kevin Punter is the last Vol currently averaging double digits in scoring at 10.5 ppg.