LEXINGTON, Ky. — Snatching a win at Rupp Arena happens about as often as a total solar eclipse.
In Tennessee's case, it happens maybe once per coaching tenure — if you're lucky.
Don DeVoe, Jerry Green and Bruce Pearl were lucky — once. Wade Houston and Buzz Peterson weren't.
Cuonzo Martin's first trip to Rupp last year was a 25-point sacrifice to the future national champions. His second, Tuesday night, was an entirely different deal.
As the minutes, the possessions, the media timeouts came and went, the seeming impossible was growing, in fact, quite possible.
Derek Reese, a freshman playing his fourth game, swished a 3-pointer that put Tennessee ahead of Kentucky 54-53 with 7:15 to play.
Moments later, Reese toed the free-throw line and hit both tries to forge a 56-56 tie.
With only 6:27 to play, anything was on the table. Anything included Kentucky losing again three days after upstart Texas A&M swooped in from the Lone Star State and won.
You know how it ended. Kentucky won 75-65, the final margin being its biggest lead of the night.
That leaves the Vols 4-34 in Rupp. And it leaves them wondering when there might be another chance as ripe as this one.
"When you're on the road,'' Martin said, "you always say to give yourself a chance.
"But we're not trying to just be respectable. We're trying to win a ballgame and we came up short.''
The Vols did so many things right to give themselves a chance.
They shrugged off their slow-start blues, shooting 56 percent in the first half.
They hung tough, keeping the crowd of 24,033 fidgeting in their seats rather than raising the roof.
Jordan McRae continued his tour de force, scoring 23 points, producing clutch baskets so often when the Vols needed one to stifle a Kentucky run.
Reese and fellow freshman Armani Moore didn't look in the least intimidated, combining for 14 points.
Yemi Makanjuola doesn't have the stat line to show for it, but he made a difference in the paint during his 14 minutes before fouling out.
Just give yourself a chance.
Even after Kentucky eased out to a 71-63 lead with a minute to play, Tennessee, against all odds, still found a way to give itself a chance.
Josh Richardson's driving bucket made the difference 71-65 and Martin called a quick timeout with 50.4 seconds on the clock.
Then the Vols did something they almost never do — they pressed and forced Kentucky's Julius Mays into a turnover.
Not just any turnover. This was better. After the officiating crew replayed the sequence, Mays was called for a flagrant offensive foul.
That meant free throws and possession for the Vols.
With 42 seconds on the clock, Richardson stepped alone to the free throw line for two shots. The other nine players watched from near their respective benches.
And when you're at the line in an orange uniform in Rupp in the final minute, that is as alone as it gets.
Richardson, a sophomore, is a career 58 percent free-throw shooter. He'll never forget his first try. Hopefully, in time he'll be able to laugh about it.
Then Richardson's second shot didn't fare any better, although it did draw iron.
The Rupp denizens, knowing their heroes had dodged a bullet, roared. Tennessee put the ball in play, but McRae's driving try was off the mark.
Instead of closing the gap to 71-69 or — with a trey 71-70 — UT was still down six.
Kentucky got a free throw then Trae Golden missed a wide-open driving layup, putting it up off the glass too hard.
The door closed.
Who knows when the Vols will give themselves another opportunity like this one.
This is Kentucky's vulnerable moment, a pause between the typically dominating juggernauts coach John Calipari has produced with his one-and-done formula.
"I thought our guys put ourselves in position,'' said Martin. "We just didn't capitalize.''
Visitors don't put themselves into that kind of position very often. Not here.
Rupp won again.