LEXINGTON, KY. — If Renaldo Woolridge had not scored a point Tuesday night, it would not have seemed remarkable. No message boards would have lit up in shock or suspicion.
So what if that's the way it played out? What if Woolridge didn't, in fact, score a point Tuesday night in Rupp Arena against No. 1 Kentucky?
Tennessee would have checked out at 27 points, that's what.
A score that would have made even Kevin O'Neill blush.
"My whole career,'' Woolridge said, "it's been instilled in me to answer when your number is called.''
Coach Cuonzo Martin called Woolridge's number Tuesday and he responded with 17 points. Thus, a 69-44 final count that will at least keep some of the snickers at bay.
By halftime, the Vols had managed 25 points. Fifteen of them came on 5-of-5 shooting beyond the 3-point stripe by Woolridge.
Kentucky made adjustments and Woolridge added only one basket in the second half. But still, it wasn't until the 8 minute mark that Woolridge didn't account for at least half of Tennessee's scoring.
So, good for Woolridge. And bad for everybody else. Tennessee's offense is in an awful funk.
"If you play a team of this level, you have to be able to make shots and make plays,'' said Martin.
At Vanderbilt last week, the Vols shot 35.3 percent and got beat by 18. Home against Auburn, they shot a season-low 34.4 percent and won by 15.
They lowered the bar to 28.1 percent in Rupp Arena. Take Woolridge out of the mix and the Vols were 10-of-48 from the field.
Moral of story: Auburn is at one level and Vanderbilt and Kentucky are at another.
Nobody other than Woolridge could make either a shot or a play, at least not until Jeronne Maymon finally got something going. Maymon scored all of his 13 points after halftime.
And just to provide a little contrast, Kentucky opened the game by hitting its first 11 shots. The Wildcats came back to earth after that, but the Vols were too ineffective to do anything about it.
"In the second half,'' said Martin, "we got six shutouts in a row and only got three points out of the whole deal. That's tough.''
Trae Golden made UT's first two shots and then didn't make another. Cameron Tatum stacked an 0-for-7 night onto his 0-for-9 night against Auburn. Josh Richardson was 0-for-5 and has yet to prove he can score effectively.
That takes care of three-fifths of the starting lineup. Kentucky's Anthony Davis took care of the rest.
Davis started the game with 101 blocked shots, more than seven other SEC teams and equal to UT's total. He added seven more against the Vols. If you're keeping up, it's now Davis 108, Tennessee 102.
The Vols' only points in the paint in the first half came from Yemi Makanjuola. The other bigs were in foul trouble. Jarnell Stokes didn't score until the 8:02 mark of the second half.
"Davis is one of the best if not the best in the country at changing the game,'' Martin said. "Guy like him comes along once in a lifetime.''
So at least the Vols are through with Davis. He'll be in the NBA when the next season tips off.
But what about the rest of this season? What can Martin do about Tennessee's offensive slump?
Perhaps he'll call Woolridge's number again.
Woolridge had scored a total of nine points in SEC play and didn't even see the court against Auburn. Kentucky probably thought he was as likely to cut a hip-hop video as his alter-ego Swiperboy as he was to go off on a 3-point spree Tuesday.
Say this for Woolridge, he plays his best against the best. His previous marquee game in a UT uniform was scoring 14 points in the upset of No. 1 Kansas two years ago.
"Coach Martin has been helping me keep my confidence,'' Woolridge said. "I believe he still has confidence in me and I thought it showed a little bit tonight.''
On nights when Davis isn't in the same gym, Maymon and Stokes will get their share in the paint. But I'm not sure who else Martin should have confidence in at this point.