Tennessee trounces Kentucky by 30
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Kentucky’s post-Nerlens Noel era got off to a horrendous start in a game at Knoxville on Saturday.
UK took on Tennessee, a middle-of-the-pack SEC team, and looked sluggish from the get-go in the team’s first game without its injured star player who tore the ACL in his left knee during a game against Florida earlier this week.
Noel is out for the rest of the season. The 6-foot-10 freshman was leading the nation in blocks (4.4) and was tied for the SEC lead in rebounds (9.9).
The Volunteers routed the Noel-less Wildcats 88-58 to give Tennessee its most lopsided win in the 216-game history of the rivalry series. More depressingly, Kentucky’s 30-point loss marked the fourth-worst loss in school history since 1950.
Neither team hid its emotions over the stunning results. Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t hesitate to show his frustration throughout the first half, particularly after assistant coach John Robic was ejected from the game with 11:17 left before halftime.
A frustrated Calipari was far from peachy when he talked to reporters after the game.
“Yesterday was our worst practice in four years. They haven’t beaten us in a while and they got a chance (against) a wounded animal. They rolled the car over us a couple times,” he said.
The Wildcats looked like a completely different team without Noel, who had the ability to change the presence of a game on both sides of the floor, most notably on defense where his shot-blocking ability deterred slashers in the lane.
“If you’re a Kentucky fan looking for some ray of hope, you’re not getting it today,” CBS’ Seth Davis said on the broadcast.
Kyle Wiltjer scored 18 points, Julius Mays had 12 points and Jarrod Polson had a career-high 11 for Kentucky. Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Ryan Harrow fouled out. Jordan McRae scored 15 points and Kenny Hall had 12 points as Tennessee (14-10, 6-6) shot 58% and won its third game in a row.… [For more on Tennessee trounces Kentucky by 30 in first game without Nerlens Noel, click here.]