Feb. 8, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- DeAndre Liggins tied a career-high with 19 points and No. 18 Kentucky ruined Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's return to the bench with a 73-61 victory on Tuesday night.
Josh Harrellson added 16 points as the Wildcats (17-6, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) broke a modest two-game losing streak by burying the Volunteers with a big run in each half.
Pearl, suspended for Tennessee's first eight conference games by SEC commissioner Mike Slive as punishment for lying to NCAA investigators during an ongoing probe into the school's recruiting practices, wore his trademark creamsicle blazer but was more subdued than usual.
Tennessee shot just 41 percent from the field, turned it over 14 times and never got closer than five points over the game's final 30 minutes.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said the Wildcats were in "crisis" after consecutive losses to Mississippi and No. 17 Florida, the first losing streak he's endured in six years. He stressed the need for his team, particularly the upperclassmen, to play with some urgency after slipping into a tie for last place in the competitive SEC East.
Kentucky responded with arguably its best game against a quality opponent in weeks. Maybe it helped that former star John Wall, now playing for the Washington Wizards, was around to provide inspiration from his spot courtside.
Liggins, averaging 5.0 points on 29 percent shooting over the last five games, was aggressive at both ends of the court. He made 5 of 6 field goals and 7 of 8 free throws while adding five rebounds and five steals.
Harrellson, chided by Calipari for inconsistent play after appearing to be on the verge of a breakthrough a month ago, scored 12 points in the second half including two big putbacks on offensive rebounds.