Washington helps No. 18 Kentucky rout No. 22 Tennessee


By Gary B. Graves - AP Sports Writer



Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) shoots the ball against Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) during an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, Sahvir Wheeler returned from injury to add 21 points and No. 18 Kentucky shot a season-high 68% percent to blow out No. 22 Tennessee 107-79. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) shoots the ball against Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) during an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, Sahvir Wheeler returned from injury to add 21 points and No. 18 Kentucky shot a season-high 68% percent to blow out No. 22 Tennessee 107-79. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)


Kentucky guard Sahvir Wheeler (2) flies through the air as he commits a foul against Tennessee guard Josiah-Jordan James (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)


Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)


LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, Sahvir Wheeler returned from injury to add 21 points and No. 18 Kentucky shot a season-high 68% to blow out No. 22 Tennessee 107-79 on Saturday.

The Wildcats (14-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) rolled the Volunteers on an emotional day that began with news of the death of former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall at 93.

Hall led the program to its fourth national championship in 1978. He was close with current Kentucky coach John Calipari, who paid tribute to his friend and mentor by gripping a rolled-up program and starting in a 1-3-1 defense against their border rivals.

Kentucky then unleashed its most energetic performance this season before its biggest crowd in a while, an effort helped by the return of point guard Wheeler from a neck injury. The Wildcats made their first five shots and 22 of 28 by halftime, with their 78.6% shooting tying a program record set in the first half against Mississippi on Jan. 14, 1981 (11 of 14).

Their accuracy held up for nearly 30 minutes before cooling off slightly and finishing 38 of 56 from the field. Kentucky also went 20 for 21 from the foul line to end a two-game home slide against the Volunteers (11-5, 2-3).

Santiago Vescovi scored 20 points and Kennedy Chandler 17 for Tennessee, which shot 53% but wasn’t close for the final 30 minutes.

Kellan Grady added 16 points and Davion Mintz 10 for the Wildcats, who made 11 of 18 from beyond the arc. Wheeler had eight assists, while Oscar Tshiebwe had 12 rebounds and nine points.

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee would likely have won any other game shooting at such a high rate while knocking down 11 of 23 3-pointers. But it kept the Vols close only briefly because they couldn’t match Kentucky’s intensity, pace or accuracy.

Kentucky was whole again with Wheeler’s return, reclaiming its lightning-quick offensive tempo and defensive intensity. But even that couldn’t explain the Wildcats’ uncanny shooting that appeared as if they trying to honor the year of Hall’s NCAA title.

UP NEXT

Tennessee visits in-state rival Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.

Kentucky visits Texas A&M on Wednesday night in a meeting of the SEC’s top three teams.

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Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) shoots the ball against Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) during an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, Sahvir Wheeler returned from injury to add 21 points and No. 18 Kentucky shot a season-high 68% percent to blow out No. 22 Tennessee 107-79. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/01/web1_127995412-b69f770e675046998920119e71dcbcf7.jpgKentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) shoots the ball against Tennessee forward Olivier Nkamhoua (13) during an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, Sahvir Wheeler returned from injury to add 21 points and No. 18 Kentucky shot a season-high 68% percent to blow out No. 22 Tennessee 107-79. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

Kentucky guard Sahvir Wheeler (2) flies through the air as he commits a foul against Tennessee guard Josiah-Jordan James (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/01/web1_127995412-3b3a92beeb0e45369412bf26b685666a.jpgKentucky guard Sahvir Wheeler (2) flies through the air as he commits a foul against Tennessee guard Josiah-Jordan James (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/01/web1_127995412-9c43dbeeded74baca1d791d0f5f2b83d.jpgKentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

By Gary B. Graves

AP Sports Writer