As of 1 p.m. Saturday, Kentucky’s worst all-time men’s basketball loss in 215 meetings with Tennessee was by 28 points. It came back in 1968.
As of 1 p.m. Saturday, coach John Calipari’s worst loss as the curator of Kentucky basketball was by 17 points. That came back in 2010 against UConn.
As of 3:15 p.m. Saturday, the record books were rewritten.
In a smack-you-in-the-face and kick-you-when-you’re-down beating, Tennessee throttled 25th-ranked Kentucky, 88-58, before an announced sellout of 21,678 fans at Thomspon-Boling Arena.
It was never close.
And the Vols never let up. They captured their third straight win and improved to 14-10 overall and 6-6 in the SEC.
Trae Golden paced UT with 24 points and was joined in double figures by Jordan McRae (15) and Kenny Hall (12). The Vols made 29 of 50 shots and went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc.
As smiling UT fans filled the arena concourses at halftime, fat and happy with a 24-point lead over their Big Blue rival, the prevailing conversation must have centered on two talking points.
“What just happened?”
“Which Tennessee team will show up in the second half.”
The Vols answered by outscoring the Cats 15-6 to begin the half. Hall capped the splurge with an and-one dunk.
The Tennessee lead was up to 34.
Not packing its normal punch with star freshman Nerlens Noel out with a torn ACL, the Cats (17-8, 8-4) went down without a fight.
In a dominant first half, the Vols had more offensive rebounds – 10 – than field goals made by Kentucky – nine. All those second-chance opportunities by UT led to 30 shot attempts. Seventeen went in, including all four of the Vols’ 3-point attempts.
Amid the onslaught, UT’s lead swelled from 16-7 to 35-12 to 43-18 and, finally, to 50-26 at halftime.
The balanced scoring from UT in the opening half was like nothing seen in Knoxville all season. Skylar McBee canned a pair of 3s. Golden penetrated the lane and pumped in 13. McRae played inside-out, good enough for 11. Jarnell Stokes scored five early points to start the assault. Hall came off the bench to add eight.
The Cats did themselves no favors. Ten turnovers led to 20 UT points, directly leading to the Vols’ 24-point halftime lead.
Three Kentucky players fouled out by day’s end. Kyle Wiltjer led the Cats with 18 points. Calipari’s team shot 35.8 percent (19-53) from the field.