TENNESSEE, USA —
Live Game Blog:
The Tennessee and Kentucky men's basketball programs meet for the 233rd time on Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. It will be the first of two matchups between the 22nd-ranked Vols and 18th-ranked Wildcats this season.
Tennessee is 6-4 in the last 10 meetings against Kentucky. This includes victories in the last two trips to Lexington. The Vols won both of those games with comebacks in the second half.
A win on Saturday would make Rick Barnes the only active head coach to lead a visiting team to four wins at Rupp Arena.
"Obviously I have great respect for John [Calipari] and what he's done. I've said before that he's the perfect coach for the University of Kentucky program with what he's done and the ability to sustain it. They have had very few down times when you think about it, especially with the way this league has gotten so much better. ," Barnes said on Friday morning.
Barnes and Calipari are the winningest coaches in the SEC. Kentucky's head coach has won 754 games in his career, while Barnes has 737 victories. Barnes is 8-6 against Calipari since taking over the Tennessee program.
The Wildcats come into Saturday's matchup with a 13-3 overall record and 3-1 record in SEC play. Like Tennessee, Kentucky fell to LSU in Baton Rouge.
Kentucky is powered by junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe, one of the most versatile players in the nation. He leads the nation with 15.1 rebounds per game. He also leads the SEC in scoring percentage, averaging 17 points per game.
"I'm not sure how Kentucky is doing it, other than that fact that Oscar has a tremendous passion and a drive to go get [rebounds] and you admire it, because you want that from people. I think he understands the importance of it anyways," Barnes said.
The Vols will also face the SEC's assist leader in Sahvir Wheeler. The junior guard ranks third in the country with 7.3 assists per game.
Tip off between Tennessee and Kentucky is set for 1:00 p.m. EST. The game will air on ESPN.