KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee men’s basketball came out in the second half focused and attacked Kentucky’s length with a purpose Saturday night.
The results from the locked-in Vols were solid. Tennessee picked up its first SEC win of the season by defeating Kentucky 76-65.
Tennessee became the first team to beat John Calipari three straight times as Kentucky coach on its home court.
The Vols relied on their two best players and they came up with solid performances. Admiral Schofield led the Vols with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Grant Williams added 18 points and 8 rebounds.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Vols get back to sharing the ball
Tennessee assisted on 23 of 25 made field goals. The Vols had four players with 4 or more assists in the game.
Tennessee is better when it shares the ball evenly and the team is looking for the best shot. Williams is the best player on the team, but he can’t carry the offense for an entire game.
The Vols need a balanced attack to throw defenses off guard.
The ball movement made Kentucky’s defense uncomfortable, which led to a lot of fouls. The Wildcats had 23 personal fouls spread among eight players.
Williams makes difference in second half
Williams was stifled by the length of Kentucky in the first half but figured things out in the second. Kentucky didn’t have much of an answer for him, though.
Williams was more aggressive in the second half and had 16 of his 18 points after halftime. The sophomore made an efficient 7 of 9 shots in the half.
He didn’t turn the ball over in the second half after recording 2 in the first.
An aggressive but efficient Williams is important for this team moving forward. He has the highest ceiling of anyone on the team.
No fun in zone
Kentucky only runs eight players deep on an already young roster. The lack of depth and inexperience were exposed against the Vols.
Kentucky’s Wenyen Gabriel fouled out around the 12-minute mark in the second half. He was forced into action because Hamidou Diallo already had 4 fouls at the time as well. PJ Washington left the game with cramps just moments before and did not return.
This left the Wildcats rotating with six players for the final 12 minutes. Calipari switched to a zone to help preserve his roster and try to limit fatigue.
It was clear Kentucky had not practiced much zone together, though. Tennessee feasted on gaps in the zone, which usually led to Williams taking shots around the basket.
That’s typically a winning combination for the Vols.
Kentucky switched back to man-to-man with under 5 minutes left but it was too late. Tennessee already held a double-digit lead.