Sept. 22, 2011
When it comes to SEC basketball rivalries, none match the history and tradition of the border war that is the Tennessee-Kentucky feud, now entering its 102nd year. With 66 wins against the Wildcats, the Vols have had more success against the Big Blue than any other program in college basketball.
And Vols basketball fans know few more joyous occasions than when The Big Orange beats that school up I-75.
However, before Ray Mears tenure on The Hill, Adolph Rupp's SEC supremacy had gone largely unchallenged. But the Barnum of Basketball, as Mears was often called, changed that. Mears stubbornness drew a stalemate, going 15-15 in his 30 meetings with the Cats.
But one of the Vols' most memorable victories over Kentucky came during the tenure of another Vol legend: Allan Houston.
On Feb. 24, 1993, Wade Houston's team provided a memory that Thompson-Boling Arena will not soon forget. Before 22,457 Orange-clad Vols fans, the Vols suited up against Rick Pitino's second-ranked Wildcats.
Kentucky was on the verge of becoming the nation's top-ranked team after the previous No. 1 Indiana dropped an 81-77 decision in overtime on the road at Ohio State.
It seemed as though Kentucky was destined to win. The experts didn't give Tennessee a chance.
However, it soon became evident to the experts that anything is possible in this rivalry. The Vols led by as much as 12 in the first 20 minutes and rode a 41-32 lead into halftime.
Despite the lead, Kentucky roared back, tying the game just seven minutes into the second half.
But the Tennessee tandem of Allan Houston and Corey Allen proved to be the difference. Combining for 51 of UT's total 78 points, the pair would combine on the Vols' final possession to create one of the most memorable plays in Tennessee basketball history.
The lead changed only three times in the second half. With the Cats leading 77-74 with 9.9 seconds left to play, the lead had only changed twice. After bringing the ball down the court, Allan Houston was fouled with 4.9 remaining.
Those final five seconds seemed like an eternity. Kentucky fans thought they'd snuck off of Rocky Top with a win. But the Vols weren't done, yet.
The first free throw went through the net and the Cats' lead was cut to two. Houston was a perfect 9-for-9 from the stripe, but strategy came into play when it came time for his second shot. The second free throw bounced off the rim and a put-back by Jermaine Brown failed. The rebound went to Allen and his jumper with 1.5 seconds left swished through the net, sending a raucous Thompson-Boling Arena crowd into an all-out frenzy.
The game was tied. The Vols had a chance to win it. "The four-point play," as UT fans remember it, did win it for Tennessee that day. Allen's and-one free throw went in and the Vols won 78-77.
After the game, Allan Houston went out of his way to thank Tennessee fans and claimed the Home of the Vols was the loudest he's ever heard it. However, Allen summed it up best with his post-game remarks.
"This one sure feels good."