Jan. 28, 2007
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky got five of its 11 3-pointers as part of a 20-2 run as the Wildcats capitalized on the absence of All-America candidate Chris Lofton to pull away from rival Tennessee 76-57 Sunday afternoon.
Without Lofton, the Maysville, Ky., native who leads the Southeastern Conference in scoring average, the Volunteers (14-7, 2-4) not only couldn't answer the bigger Wildcats' inside game but also got beat from outside.
Kentucky (16-5, 5-2) led 47-46 with 10 minutes left when the Wildcats' shooters started doing their best Lofton impersonation - hitting long-range buckets with regularity.
Ramel Bradley, who led Kentucky with 21 points, had two 3-pointers in the 20-2 run. Freshman Jodie Meeks added two more, and made four of five 3-point attempts for 16 points - two shy of a career high. Bobby Perry also connected long-range during the run.
By the time the Kentucky shooters cooled off seven minutes later, they'd built a 67-48 lead.
Tennessee's JaJuan Smith led all scorers with 25 points, including five of 11 from 3-point range.
The deficit could have been even worse for Tennessee, which was outrebounded 42-27, if Kentucky center Randolph Morris hadn't gotten into foul trouble. He picked up two of his four fouls early and was a non-factor for much of the game, finishing with just nine points and four rebounds.
However, nine Wildcats got rebounds - and seven of them had at least three.
Until Kentucky went on its run, the two teams traded leads - and it appeared the game would go down to the wire. Kentucky shot 32 percent during a sloppy first half and trailed 32-31 at halftime after Joe Crawford beat the buzzer with a dunk.
Crawford had 15 points for his 10th-straight double-digit scoring game.
The Wildcats had moved into the Top 25 after an 11-game winning streak, but dropped out last week following back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia.
Tennessee, the defending conference champs, got a career-high 31 points - and seven 3-pointers - from Lofton last year in knocking of the Wildcats at Rupp. But, they've now dropped five of the last six - including back-to-back losses without Lofton.
Kentucky and Tennessee played for the 202nd time - second behind only Mississippi and Mississippi State in SEC play.