LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tennessee left Rupp Arena seeing red after suffering a Big Blue blowout Tuesday night.
Kentucky showed why it’s ranked No. 1, extending the nation’s longest active home win steak to 48 games with a 69-44 victory before a sellout crowd of 24,359.
UT’s most-lopsided loss of the season dropped the Vols (10-12, 2-5 SEC) to 0-7 on the road. The 44 points was the UT’s fewest since suffering a 56-44 loss to Butler on Nov. 22, 2006 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
UT shot its worst percentage of the season for a third straight game, making 16 of 57 shots (28.1 percent) while getting a season-high 11 shots blocked.
Senior forward Renaldo Woolridge came off the bench to match his career high with 17 points, hitting five consecutive 3-pointers in the first half.
Kentucky freshman center Anthony Davis scored 18 points while pulling down eight rebounds and blocking seven shots.
Kentucky (22-1, 8-0) hit its first 11 shots from the floor, racing out to a 26-8 lead before Darius Miller misfired on a 3-point attempt at the 8:53 mark.
UT didn’t get closer than 10 points the rest of the game.
“You allow a team with that type of talent to get their heads up, it can be a long night,’’ UT coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Our starters didn’t do a good job of setting the tone early.’’
The Vols were called for eight of the game’s first nine fouls with their top three scorers each getting two fouls in the opening 10 minutes.
The fact Kentucky coach John Calipari campaigned for a closely called game on Monday was not lost on anyone.
A Kentucky reporter asked UT junior Jeronne Maymon “how much do you think the refs were listening?” to Calipari.
Maymon, still perspiring, replied: “Probably too much; probably was on the phone with him. It was crazy how things were going.’’
Maymon, who scored all 13 of his points in the second half, also said, “They (officials) were calling a lot of tick-tack fouls on us, but we go down there and we can’t get the same call.’’
Martin said his players should have been prepared to handle Kentucky’s home-court advantage.
“I thought our guys did a good job attacking the rim; I thought we got some fouls there, they weren’t called,’’ Martin said, “but you know coming into this environment that’s the way it’s gonna be. You have to be mentally 10 or 15 points ahead.’’
UT freshman Jarnell Stokes didn’t score until there were eight minutes left in the game, finishing 2-of-9 shooting for four points with six rebounds and four steals.
Kentucky made 24 of 27 free throws while the Vols were five of seven at the free-throw line, but Stokes stopped just short of being critical of the officiating.
“If you look at the foul count, look at the game, of course you see that it wasn’t evenly’’ Stokes said, stopping in mid-sentence. “I don’t wanna make any excuses. Anthony Davis changed the game.’’
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points and Terrence Jones also scored 11 for the Wildcats, who won their 14th-straight game dating back to a 73-72 loss at Indiana on Dec. 10.
Kentucky held a 38-25 half-time lead despite Woolridge’s surprising 3-point charge.
Woolridge, who didn’t play in the win over Auburn last Saturday, hit his fifth straight 3-pointer at the 4:42 mark of the first half, cutting the deficit to 32-22.
The Vols scored 21 of their 25 first-half points through the first 20 minutes on 3-pointers, getting just two points in the paint.
The foul troubles of forwards Maymon and Stokes were a big reason why, as they played six and seven minutes, respectively, in the first half.
The Wildcats had burst out to 20-5 lead, hitting their first eight shots and first four free throws, going to the line in the bonus (seven UT fouls) less than seven minutes into the game.
The Wildcats’ first foul came when Davis and Golden were called for a double-technical at the 13:48 mark with Kentucky up 17-5.
A photo that surfaced after the game showed Davis appearing to have his hands around the throat of UT guard Skylar McBee while the players converged.
Trae Golden and Davis exchanged words after that, prompting the shriek of whistles and the officials breaking up the players before any further event could occur.
UT returns to action on Saturday (TV: FSTN, 8 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena against Georgia. The Bulldogs (10-10, 1-5) defeated the Vols 57-53 in overtime in Athens on Jan. 18.