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Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee Avenges Loss At Kentucky

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Tennessee flipped the script on Kentucky from the teams’ first meeting as the Vols led by double-digits for much of the game, knocking off the No. 4 Wildcats, 76-63.

Here’s three quick takeaways.

Dominant Run Pushes Tennessee To Double-Digit Halftime Lead

Kentucky made five of its six shots and scored on its first five possessions to take a 10-4 lead in the opening minutes of the game. Vol fans could be forgiven for thinking “here we go again” after the Wildcats torched Tennessee for 107 points last month in Lexington.

That wasn’t the case, however, as Tennessee survived the storm thanks to a Kennedy Chandler three and a John Calipari technical foul that gave the Vols a one-point advantage at the first media timeout.

After stabilizing itself, both teams held even for a few minutes before Tennessee turned on the after burners. Chandler sparked a massive 17-1 Tennessee run scoring eight straight points himself including a pair of triples— the second of which forced Calipari to take a timeout.

The Vols offense was absolutely humming, playing mostly in its small ball lineup until Josiah-Jordan James picked up his second foul with 8:33, Tennessee scored 17 points in 4:32 of game time.

On the other end, Tennessee’s defense completely flipped the script from the first meeting and the game’s open. Kentucky didn’t make a basket for a 10:55 surviving only at the free throw line.

All that allowed Tennessee to take a 46-32 lead into the locker room.

Vols Get Active John Fulkerson

More than any other play on Tennessee’s roster, it is clear whether John Fulkerson is going to have a strong game or poor game in his first few runs on the court.

Tuesday, when Fulkerson caught a pass at the high post, drove right past Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe and finished the layup it was apparent the Vols were getting an active John Fulkerson.

An active John Fulkerson they got indeed. After not scoring last month in Lexington, Fulkerson tallied 14 point on four-of-six shooting. The super senior played completely unafraid of Tshiebwe and gave Tennessee 26 excellent minutes on both ends of the court.

Fulkerson didn’t post over 20 points, but the lefty was just about as good as he was in his career performances against Kentucky in 2020 and Arizona earlier this season. The Vols didn’t run their offense through Fulkerson, but he was fantastic playing his role.

And when Tennessee needed points from the Kingsport native, Fulkerson delivered. Tennessee scored just five points in the first 7:09 of the second half. Four of them came from Fulkerson baskets on Tshiebwe.

Fulkerson’s performance was massive, but I’d be remiss not to mention the play of Jonas Aidoo. Playing significant minutes for the third game all season, the freshman didn’t back down to Tschiebwe or anyone else, recording five points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the win.

Vols’ Backcourt Provides The Scoring

Tennessee got fantastic play from John Fulkerson — as well as freshman forward Jonas Aidoo — but it was the Vols’ backcourt that did the heavy lifting on the offensive end.

The backcourt trio of Chandler, Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi combined for 49 of Tennessee’s 76 points in the win.

Chandler was brilliant in the first half, sparking the major run while tallying 15 points on five-of-seven shooting from the field. Despite missing a pair of open layups, Santiago Vescovi wasn’t far behind, tallying 14 first half points— also on five-of-seven shooting.

Zeigler scored just four first half points, instead dishing four assists before the intermission. However, Zeigler’s ability to score showed itself in the second half as the freshman point guard tallied 10 points including a pair of triples.

Both Chandler and Vescovi had lackluster scoring second halves, but found ways to contribute on both ends of the court.

Chandler ended with 17 points on nine shots, Vescovi ended with 18 points on 12 shots and Zeigler ended with 14 points on eight shots.

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