KNOXVILLE — Coming off a 68-65 loss at Alabama and now riding a three-game losing streak, Tennessee faces a daunting test immediately on the horizon.
The Vols (8-6, 0-2 SEC) play at Kentucky (10-5, 1-1) on Tuesday night. They are 4-33 all-time at Rupp Arena and 16-86 all-time in Lexington.
“They have a great atmosphere – a tremendous atmosphere,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said during his weekly media luncheon on Monday. “There and here in Knoxville are two of the best in the country.”
The Vols are 0-3 on the road this season with losses at Georgetown, Virginia and Alabama and 3-11 in road games under Martin.
Tennessee lost at UK 69-44 last year.
"You have to play the way you play,” Martin said. “You can’t be passive. … If you’re passive, it’s a long night."
On the SEC weekly teleconference prior to the luncheon, Kentucky coach John Calipari commented on the Vols saying, “(Jordan) McRae is really, really talented and obviously (Jarnell) Stokes is a beast. … I imagine they’re coming in here hyped up.”
Looking at a potential rebounding mismatch, Calipari admitted, “We’re going to have trouble. That’s one of the issues we’ll have to deal with.” The Cats were outrebounded 32-27 in a home loss to Texas A&M on Saturday and gave up 20 offensive rebounds in a narrow win at Vanderbilt last week.
The Wildcats, though, rank 31st in the country in scoring at 77.4 points per game.
“You can’t let those guys get easy buckets,” Martin said, when asked about slowing down Kentucky’s attack.
At 10-5, the Cats are off to their worst start since 2007-08.
Against Kentucky, Martin said point guard Trae Golden will again come off the bench for the second straight game. As it did at Alabama, UT’s starting lineup will consist of McRae, Stokes, Skylar McBee, Josh Richardson and Kenny Hall.
More coming online and in Tuesday’s News Sentinel.