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Broom Time: CATS Sweep Vols

Jacob Toppin - photo by Brendon D. Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

CATS Show What Can Be with Win over No. 10 Volunteers 66 – 54

LEXINGTON – February 18, 2023 – Michael Willis

“The most important game of the season” is a phrase that is often over used, but today’s game against the Tennessee Volunteers was exactly that. Kentucky headed into the game coming off the road win against Mississippi State and back in the NCAA Tournament after recently falling out. The Cats knew that a win today against the 10th ranked Volunteers was crucial to punch their ticket to the big dance and with a 66 to 54 victory the Cats have secured their spot in March.

It was a very sloppy beginning of the game with both teams shooting only 14% from the field. Kentucky was able to gain an early 10 to 2 lead after a 6 to 0 run. Both teams began to score in the last 12 minutes of the half, however, Kentucky was better at finishing at the rim and went on a 12 to 2 scoring run that propelled them to a 27 to 12 lead. Kentucky outplayed Tennessee on both end of the court finishing the half with a 39 to 19 lead.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of gaining the 20-point lead was that they did it without Antonio Reeves for the last 9 minutes of the half. Chris Livingston made up for the missing scoring making all 3 of his field goals and both of his free throws ending the half with 9 points. Cason Wallace led all scored with 12 points in the first half and passed for 3 assists.

Kentucky opened the second half with 4 straight turnovers that resulted in a 7 to 0 run. The Volunteers were led by Vescovi who scored 15 points in the first seven minutes of the second half. The Wildcats kept the lead in double-digits most of the second half and thanks to great defense and Tennessee missing all of their second half free-throws the Wildcats pulled out a 66 to 54 victory.

Oscar Tshiebwe and Cason Wallace shared the scoring lead for the Cats with 16 each. Tshiebwe made 10 of his 11 free-throw attempts to secure the victory. Wallace had 6 assists and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Chris Livingston had another great performance and has become an essential part of this team’s success. Livingston recorded his first career double-double tonight with 12 points and 10 rebounds. When asked about Livingston’s recent performances, Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes jokingly stated that “I’m not sure what Cal was thinking earlier in the year.”

Now that Kentucky have confidently placed themselves into the tournament, they must continue to play with the effort that got them there. The Cats next test will be on the road in Gainsville when the face the Florida Gators on Wednesday night at 7.

Tennessee (20 – 7, 9 – 5) Kentucky (18 – 9, 9 – 5)

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