KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball is riding a wave, but the Vols are headed into what figures to be the most hostile road venue of the season.
Kentucky’s Rupp Arena is the site of a 7 p.m. ET showdown Tuesday with the rival Wildcats, and coach John Calipari has called for all hands on deck in Lexington.
We need you Tuesday to be at your best from the tip to the finish. If we’re going good, ride it and push us to make the lead unbearable. If we’re struggling some, encourage us and bring us back. The last eight minutes of the game, do not sit down! We need you more than ever now!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) February 4, 2018
The No. 18-ranked Vols (17-5, 7-3 SEC) have lost 10 straight in Rupp Arena, their last road victory over Kentucky coming in 2006. If Tennessee can beat the Wildcats on Tuesday, it will be the Vols’ first season sweep over Kentucky since 1999.
Tennessee junior Admiral Schofield said the Vols are ready for this challenge, and they know fully well what they are getting into with the Wildcats boasting a 13-1 record at home.
“They’re struggling a little bit, which is part of basketball,” Schofield said after the Vols beat Ole Miss on Saturday night. “But the biggest thing for us is we can’t worry about them, or the crowd or the scene. We’ve got to worry about us, like we’ve been doing.”
Tennessee has won five straight and eight of the last nine entering the contest with the Wildcats (17-6, 6-4).
Kentucky enters the game coming off a 69-60 loss Missouri — its third defeat in the past six games.
The Wildcats scored just 18 points in the first half against Cuonzo Martin’s Tigers — the fewest in a first half in Calipari’s nine seasons leading the program.
Kentucky missed its first 13 attempts from beyond the 3-point mark and had more turnovers (12) than assists (9), an occurrence that has taken place in five of the team’s six losses this season.
“I still believe in this team,” Calipari said after the game, per Kyle Tucker of SEC Country, “and I still think we have the most upside of any team in the country.”
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said the Vols will continue to take it one game at a time, but he knows what it will take to get a win Tuesday.
“At Rupp you know you have to go in there and be good, or we won’t get it done,” Barnes said. “We’ll see if we can continue to get better. That’s what we’ll keep talking about.”
Tennessee’s past 10 trips to Rupp Arena
- Feb. 14, 2017: Kentucky 83, Tennessee 58
- Feb. 18, 2016: Kentucky 80, Tennessee 70
- Jan. 18, 2014: Kentucky 74, Tennessee 66
- Jan. 15, 2013: Kentucky 75, Tennessee 65
- Jan. 31, 2012: Kentucky 69, Tennessee 44
- Feb. 8, 2011: Kentucky 73, Tennessee 61
- Feb. 13, 2010: Kentucky 73, Tennessee 62
- Feb. 21, 2009: Kentucky 77, Tennessee 58
- Jan. 22, 2008: Kentucky 72, Tennessee 66
- Jan. 28, 2007: Kentucky 76, Tennessee 57