KNOXVILLE, TN-Admiral Schofield scored 20 points and recorded nine rebounds to lead the 23rd-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to a 76-65 victory over No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols (10-4, 1-2 SEC) shot 54 percent from the field in the second half while using a strong defensive effort to outscore the Wildcats (12-3, 2-1 SEC) in the final period, 47-28, and earn their first conference victory of the season. Grant Williamsstepped up offensively down the stretch, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half on 7-for-9 shooting.
UT was also fueled by great team play, as it recorded 23 assists on 25 total baskets, led by six from James Daniel. After going into halftime trailing by nine, the Vols went on multiple runs in the second half, including a 10-0 burst that lasted over three minutes, to reclaim the lead and defeat Kentucky for the third consecutive year at TBA.
Tennessee struggled offensively in the first half, as it made just eight shots from the floor and committed eight turnovers. Kentucky meanwhile was efficient throughout the period, shooting 55 percent from the field and 4-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc. PJ Washington knocked down his first four shots and finished the period with 11 points to lead the Wildcats to a 37-29 advantage at the intermission. Wenyen Gabriel added a spark off the bench, hitting three 3-pointers for nine points.
Schofield paced the Vols offensively at the break with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. The 29 point total tied for the fewest the team has scored in a half this season (Dec. 20 vs. Furman). UT was able to keep the game in reach through solid defense that featured 14 rebounds and two blocks.
Tennessee stormed out of the gate in the second half, going on a quick 6-0 run highlighted by a Schofield breakaway dunk. The scoring outburst continued with a Lamonte Turner 3-pointer three minutes in that put the Vols ahead for the first time since the 16:00 mark of the first half. Turner finished with 11 points and five assists.
UT’s defensive intensity continued into the second half, as Kentucky did not make a 3-pointer for over nine minutes and was held without a field goal for over a five-minute stretch late in the game. The Wildcats were also held to a season-low 28 points in the half, and were forced into committing nine turnovers. Quade Green led Kentucky with 14 points on 5-for-14 shooting, while Nick Richards added nine points and eight boards.
Kentucky cut the Tennessee edge to seven with under six minutes to play, but the Vols were able to use clutch free-throw shooting and timely turnovers to pull away down the stretch. A thunderous dunk by Schofield with 23 seconds left increased the lead to 11 and brought the sellout home crowd to its feet.
UP NEXT: The Vols hit the road to face in-state rival Vanderbilt on Jan. 9 at Memorial Gymnasium before a big matchup at home against Texas A&M on Jan. 13.
Courtesy: University of Tennessee Athletics