Reeves, Tibwe lead Kentucky over No. 5 Tennessee 63-56

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Antonio Reaves scored 18 points and Oscar Chibwe had 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead the…

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Antonio Reaves scored 18 points and Oscar Chibwe had 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead Kentucky to a 63-56 victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Saturday.

Kentucky led 58-50 with 3:28 left in the game. Two free throws by Santiago Vescavi and two by Uras Plavsic cut the gap to two less than a minute into the game.

A Wildcat pass gave Tennessee a chance to tie or take the lead, but Zakai Zeigler and Plavsic missed low.

“Both coaches made it a game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “No one backed down.”

The Wildcats (11-6, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) were a physical presence and dominated the Volunteers (14-3, 4-1) on the boards, 43-23. Tennessee entered the game leading the SEC in turnover margin (+9.94).

“Our front line has to rebound better,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “Defensively, we have to get everybody involved.”

Tennessee big man Plavsic, who scored 19 points, was the only Vol who matched Kentucky’s physical makeup.

Calipari said the strategy was to focus on the Vols’ perimeter game while letting Plavsic do whatever he wanted.

“They can beat us from 3,” Calipari said. “They won’t beat us with two.”

Kentucky’s effort comes after a disappointing loss to South Carolina earlier in the week.

Calipari spent a good portion of his meeting with the media addressing the negativity towards her team from her fansespecially on social media.

“I haven’t lost faith in any of these guys,” he said. “I have a good team. (Friday night) I collected all the phones (cell players), iPads and everything else.”

CJ Fredrick scored eight straight and had 10 of his 13 points in the first half as Kentucky took a 33-26 halftime lead.

Vescovi, who rehabbed his left shoulder from a collision early in the game, had seven in the first half for Tennessee. He finished with 13 points.

“We had some uncontested looks at the rim,” Barnes said. “Persistent deposits—you have to make them.”

CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY

During his 36 seasons as a college basketball head coach, Rick Barnes led his teams to an AP top 25 ranking for a total of 299 weeks. This includes 131 weeks in the Top 10.

THE BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: In addition to the disappointment of a six-game losing streak to start the season, the Wildcats have had injury issues. J. Kayson Wallace (back) and F Jacob Toppin (shoulder) were ruled out. Both started against the Vols. … Big man Oscar Chibwe leads the SEC with 10 double-doubles this season. … Sahvir Wheeler leads the SEC with 6.3 assists per game. This is his third consecutive year at the top. … John Calipari coached his 36th game against Tennessee. No other coach has led his team against the Vols in as many games.

Tennessee: Senior G Santiago Vescavi has been hot lately. He came into the Kentucky game averaging 16.5 points on 60% shooting from the field and 57% from three over his last five games. … Zakai Ziegler, who has been adjusting to his role as a point guard coming off the bench, had 27 assists in his last three games before Saturday. … Chris Lofton (2004-08), the SEC’s all-time 3-point field goal leader (431), raised his No. 5 to the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena.

FURTHER

Kentucky: Hosts Georgia on Tuesday.

Tennessee: Visit Mississippi State on Tuesday.

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