For the first time since 2003, two SEC teams ranked inside the top five of the AP Poll will face-off on the basketball court. And it will take place within the oldest and most heated rivalry in the conference.
No. 1 Tennessee (23-1, 11-0 SEC) travels up to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (20-4, 9-2 SEC) on Saturday night in a primetime match-up. Saturday’s game marks the first meeting between the two schools where they’ve both been ranked inside the top five of the AP Poll, and it will be the 226th overall contest between the two programs.
Dating back to 1910, this series is the oldest and most storied rivalry in the SEC. Kentucky holds the all-time edge, 154-71, but the Vols have grabbed the momentum as of late. Tennessee has won two of the last three games they’ve played against Kentucky, and they’ve won four of the last seven meetings between the two schools.
Last year, Tennessee defeated Kentucky 61-59 in Lexington, marking the first time the Vols had won in Rupp Arena since 2006. That victory also marked only the fifth time the Vols have ever won in Rupp since it opened up prior to the 1976-77 season. Tennessee is just 5-37 all-time in Rupp Arena.
The Vols have also never won back-to-back games in Rupp, and Kentucky hasn’t lost back-to-back home games in the John Calipari era. The Wildcats just lost 73-71 to LSU at home on Tuesday night.
Saturday’s contest will mark the first time the top-ranked Vols have faced a ranked opponent since they took down then-No. 1 Gonzaga back on December 9th. Tennessee has only played two ranked teams this season, and both have been top-five teams. The Vols also played then-No. 2 Kansas back in late November, losing 87-81 in overtime. That’s Tennessee’s only loss this season, and they’ve won a program-record 19-straight games since then.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has played six ranked teams this season, and they’re 4-2 in those contests.
For Tennessee, Saturday night’s match-up will be at least the sixth time that six of their scholarship players have played Kentucky in their UT careers. Seniors Admiral Schofield and Kyle Alexander will be taking on the Wildcats for the eighth time in their Tennessee careers.
But Kentucky doesn’t have that type of experience on their roster. Only two of the Wildcats’ nine main scholarship players were on last year’s squad that played the Vols three times. Seven of Kentucky’s scholarship players will be playing the Vols for the first time in their Wildcat careers on Saturday night.
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes is 5-5 all-time against Kentucky in his career, and he’s 4-3 against the Wildcats as UT’s head coach. Kentucky head coach John Calipari is 15-9 all-time against the Vols in his coaching career, and he’s 12-6 vs. Tennessee as the Wildcats’ head coach.
Here’s everything you need to know about today’s match-up, and here are our score predictions for Saturday’s big game. If you can’t make it to the game, here’s how you can watch and listen to the Tennessee vs. Kentucky game.
Tip-Off: 8:00 Eastern, February 16th, Rupp Arena (Lexington, KY)
Streaming Online: WatchESPN.com or ESPN app
Radio: Vol Network (99.1 FM or 990 AM in Knoxville/surrounding areas)
Line: Kentucky (-4)