Just a few days after dropping No. 1 Alabama in Knoxville, No. 10 Tennessee fell to Kentucky by a score of 66-54 on Saturday afternoon in Lexington, Kentucky. This is Kentucky’s second win over Tennessee this season.
Tennessee was bad in the first half as they allowed the Wildcats to jump out to a remarkable 20-point lead at halftime. Still, though, Tennessee didn’t back down. The Vols fought hard and closed the gap to just single digits about halfway through the second half, but the small details still made it tough for Tennessee to get over the hump and actually make a push on the home team.
What are those details, specifically? Free throw shooting. Tennessee shot just 4-of-14 from the charity stripe in the game – including an 0-6 line from the second half. Whether it’s mental or mechanical, that’s something that could drown Tennessee in the final month of the basketball season including tournament time.
Shooting, in general, was bad on Saturday afternoon. Tennessee shot just 37 percent from the field, 22 percent from three-point range, and 29 percent from the free throw line.
Santiago Vescovi bounced back from a scoreless first half to drop 17 points in the second half and ended the game as Tennessee’s leading scorer. But, as great as Vescovi was, that’s indicative of Tennessee’s biggest problem this year as a whole. A lack of consistency. Tennessee has struggled to find consistent scoring night in and night out.
One bright spot from the game was sophomore guard Jahmai Mashack. After going scoreless against Alabama last Wednesday, Mashack responded with a terrific offensive performance on Saturday as he found 16 points, a career-high, against the Cats.
After the game in Lexington, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and guard Jahmai Mashack met with the media to give their reactions to the game. Check out both interviews, as well as Rocky Top Insider’s quick takeaways, below.