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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Tennessee was determined not to let No. 13 Kentucky have its way inside.
Instead, the Volunteers gave up the outside and paid for it in a hard-fought 74-66 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday.
Tennessee (11-6, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) allowed Kentucky to make 7 of 16 from 3-point range. The Volunteers also allowed Wildcats freshman point guard Andrew Harrison to take charge in the second half as he scored 16 of his 26 points in the final 20 minutes.
"They did just enough at the end of the first half to take the lead. Got a little momentum," Vols coach Cuonzo Martin said. "We had some opportunities in the second half. We had some breakdowns in transition that we didn't capitalize on like I thought we could have."
Jarnell Stokes had 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Volunteers lost to Kentucky for the 150th time and dropped to 4-35 at Rupp Arena. Guard Jordan McRae added 17 points and Jeronne Maymon had 12 points and five rebounds.
Tennessee outrebounded the Wildcats 39-24 but shot just 41 percent (24 of 58) from the field and made 2 of 13 3-point attempts.
But Kentucky (13-4, 3-1) did most of its damage in the first half, rallying from a nine-point deficit to take a 34-32 halftime lead. Tennessee only led once more, 39-37, in the second half and trailed by as many as 11 points with 4:11 remaining.
"We played at their pace and let them shoot from the perimeter," Stokes said. "This team (Kentucky) hasn't always been good from the perimeter."
The Wildcats haven't always been good from the free throw line either at times this season, but corrected things against the Vols.
Kentucky made 23 of 24 from the line including its first 17 before Aaron Harrison, Andrew's twin, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 32 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats had entered the game making 66 percent of their free throws, 63 percent in SEC games.
Andrew Harrison made all 10 of his free throw attempts along with a couple of 3-pointers and freshman Julius Randle was 5 of 5 from the free throw line and 6 of 9 from the field for 18 points.
Randle scored 16 points in the first half as Kentucky overcame an 18-9 deficit with 12:16 left in the half. The Wildcats closed with a 25-14 run over the final 11:06 including 16-6 over the last 7:06.
At first it seemed Stokes would beat the Wildcats by himself. He scored the game's first six points en route to a 12-point, 11-rebound first half that symbolized the Vols' energetic effort: they outrebounded the Wildcats 23-10 in the first 20 minutes and built a lead that stood for most of the half.
And yet, Stokes' performance and Tennessee's statistical edge mattered little at halftime. James Young's 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining capped the surge, but 26 combined points by Randle and Andrew Harrison carried the Wildcats.
Randle even added first 3-pointer this season after seven misses.
The second half belonged to the Wildcats, who shot 46 percent from the field and finished 22 of 50 overall (44 percent). Tennessee finished 24 of 58 (41 percent).
"We've been kind of up and down all year," Stokes added. "It's kind of sad we didn't finish."