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Tennessee Looking at Program History With a Win Over Kentucky

Zakai Zeigler
Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

With an outright SEC regular season championship under their belts, the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers have a chance at making program history on Saturday night in the regular season finale.

The Vols will host the No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats in the Food City Center for their fourth-straight ranked game to close out the season.

According to ESPN’s SportsCenter program, a win against the Top 15 Kentucky Wildcats will make for the Vols’ 7th straight win against ranked opponents, which would be a new program record. The Vols tied the program record (6) with a win over No. 17 South Carolina on Wednesday night in Columbia.

The Vols’ six-game ranked streak includes wins over No. 17 South Carolina, No. 14 Alabama, No. 11 Auburn, No. 10 Kentucky, No. 22 Ole Miss, and No. 20 Illinois. Tennessee has not lost to a ranked team during SEC play and last suffered a ranked loss against No. 17 North Carolina in late November.

Tennessee has gone 20-3 since that North Carolina loss with losses against Mississippi State, South Carolina (unranked at the time), and Texas A&M.

More from RTI: ESPN Moves Tennessee Basketball Up To A One-Seed Following Win Over South Carolina

ESPN Stats and Info also pointed out that Tennessee’s six-game ranked streak is the second-longest in the nation behind only Purdue (7). With the Boilermakers hosting unranked Wisconsin in their regular-season finale this Sunday, Tennessee will have a chance to tie Purdue’s mark before the end of the regular season.

Perhaps more impressive, though, Tennessee’s streak is tied for the longest among SEC teams over the last 20 regular seasons, according to ESPN.

Taking down Illinois, Ole Miss, and Kentucky is a strong feat on its own for Tennessee: The Vols bounced back from the UNC loss with the Illinois win, began the SEC season with the Ole Miss win, and rebounded from a South Carolina loss with a win over Kentucky in Rupp Arena.

But what Tennessee has been able to do in the past three games is nothing short of remarkable. With a potential SEC regular season championship on the line, Tennessee stared down a four-game gauntlet of ranked teams to close down the season and met the challenge with gusto. The Vols took down Auburn at home and then went on the road for two straight road wins over Alabama and South Carolina, three of the SEC’s top teams.

Tennessee will look for their seventh-straight ranked win this Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale against No. 15 Kentucky in Knoxville’s Food City Center.

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