KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Once down 21 points, the Tennessee Volunteers rallied to earn a 84-77 victory over No. 20 Kentucky in the 219th meeting between the two schools Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Kevin Punter Jr., the Southeastern Conference’s second-leading scorer, led the Vols with 27 points, including hitting 11-of-12 from the free throw line. Fellow senior Armani Moore scored 18 pints and pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds. Detrick Mostella had 13 points while Admiral Schofield added 11.
The Vols trailed the Wildcats, 34-13 with 5:46 to go in the opening half, but chipped away at the UK advantage over the final minutes to pull within six, 42-36 at the break.
UT took its first lead, 56-54, on a Mostella 3-pointer with 14:09 to play. Kentucky would take the lead back moments later, but the Vols kept fighting back. A 3-pointer from Moore tied the game at 63 with 11:10 to go and Tennessee would not trail again.
From the point that they trailed by 21, Tennessee outscored Kentucky 71-43 over the final 25:32.
Despite a size advantage for the Wildcats, the Vols won the battle on the boards, 37-36. UT’s bench outscored UK’s 26-4 and scored 14 points on 11 Kentucky turnovers.
Jamal Murray led the Wildcats with 21 points, one of four UK players in double figures. Tyler Ulis scored 20, Alex Poythress 14 and Isaiah Briscoe 10.
The victory over the Wildcats was the 68th in series history, the most for any opponent over Kentucky. The win also halted a two-game streak for UK in the series.
Double Figure Life: Punter’s game-high 27 points allowed the senior to lead the Vols in scoring for 17th time this season. The performance extended Punter’s streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 20 consecutive games and marked the 16th 20-point tilt this season.
Big At The Line: Tennessee hit its first 21 shots from the free throw line and finished the night 30-of-34 from the stripe. The Vols made their final five attempts from the line over the final 37 seconds to seal the victory.
Next Up: Tennessee returns to the road for an 8:00 p.m. ET contest at Arkansas Saturday night. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.