LAWRENCE, Kan. - Tennessee's best effort wasn't enough to beat the defending national champions Saturday.
It wasn't even good enough to stay within double digits the majority of the game.
Kansas ran its homecourt win streak at Allen Fieldhouse to 32 games with a 92-85 victory over the 14th-ranked Vols (9-3).
The Jayhawks (10-3) ran out to a 20-9 lead at the 13:49 mark, and UT trailed by a double-digit margin for roughly 28 of the game's 33 remaining minutes.
UT coach Bruce Pearl conceded his young team was probably rattled by the raucous Rock-Chalking capacity crowd of 16,300 in the opening minutes.
Tyler Smith led UT with 21 points and nine rebounds, and Wayne Chism tied a school record with six blocked shots while scoring 17 points, pulling down eight rebounds and recording three steals.
Juniors Smith and Chism also helped trigger a late run, as the Vols outscored the Jayhawks 8-2 to close the game and make the score more respectable.
"Our two veterans played pretty well,'' Pearl said, referring to Smith and Chism, "but not as well as their two veterans.''
Kansas point guard Sherron Collins scored a career-high 26 points, with nine assists and five rebounds while 6-foot-11 Cole Aldrich had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. Both are sophomores, but both are considered veterans after the Jayhawks lost all starters from last season's team.
"Sherron and I have that extra edge from being in those games last year,'' Aldrich said. "Coach (Bill Self) tells us every day to go up and dunk the ball because it gives us momentum, especially at home.''
UT point guard Bobby Maze, who played at nearby Hutchinson Junior College before transferring to Knoxville, was held to 4-of-11 shooting and had four turnovers.
"They got a lot of easy baskets,'' Maze said. "That's the most dunks we've given up all season.''
Pearl noticed, and he wasn't happy.
"We really didn't have an answer for Collins; he did whatever he wanted out there,'' Pearl said. "We need to get a lot better at point guard play. We've been dominated at that position, particularly defensively.
"Offensively, Bobby and Josh (Tabb) are fine. They need to lock that position down more defensively.''
Pearl was relatively pleased with UT's zone defense, and at times the Vols' pressure was effective, as Kansas turned the ball over 17 times.
But even with 10 blocks as a team, UT could not match up man-to-man with the unranked Jayhawks.
"There wasn't enough purpose to our play,'' Pearl said. "What was our identity defensively? We didn't have one.''
Offensively, the Vols overcame a horrid-shooting first half that saw them make only 1 of 11 of their 3-point shots and shoot 29.7 percent from the floor as a team.
Tennessee made 8 of 15 3-pointers in the second half and shot 51.7 percent from the floor against the Big 12's top field-goal percentage defense.
"We should have done that in the first half, but there was a lack of focus,'' Chism said. "We made our comeback, but their freshmen didn't get rattled. Our defense just needs to pick it up.''
"We scored 85 points on the No. 1 defensive team in the Big 12,'' Smith said. "We had the points to win, but we've got to step up defensively.''
The Vols return to action Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena, when they'll put their 37-game homecourt win streak on the line against Gonzaga (TV: ESPN2, 9 p.m.). The Bulldogs beat the Vols 83-74 in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 30.