The Harrison brothers had Tennessee seeing double Saturday at Rupp Arena.
Twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison combined to score 27 of Kentucky’s 40 second-half points, including the final 10, in sparking the Wildcats to a 74-66 victory.
“I thought the two Harrison guys did a great job, particularly Andrew, of getting to the rim off the high ball screen,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said on the post-game show. “I didn’t think our point guards (Antonio Barton, Darius Thompson) did a good job of staying with the ball and being aggressive.”
Jarnell Stokes hit 8 of 12 shots en route to producing 20 points and 15 rebounds for Tennessee, now 11-6 overall, 2-2 in SEC play. Fellow 6-foot-8 post Jeronne Maymon added 12 points and five rebounds gainst Kentucky’s towering front line.
“I thought both of those guys did a great job,” Martin said. “I think this is the best they’ve played since I’ve seen those guys together with shot-blocking (opposing) guys that are physical. I thought they did an exceptional job of keeping those (Kentucky) guys off the glass.”
The Vols’ perimeter game, meanwhile, came up short. Jordan McRae scored 17 points but struggled to get them. He made just 5 of 14 shots (1 of 7 from 3) and committed four turnovers. Josh Richardson (2 of 7) and Antonio Barton (0 of 4) were not efficient shooters, either.
“You’ve got to make some shots (to win at Rupp Arena),” Martin said. “We were 2 for 13 from the 3-point line. We’ve got to at least make a couple more than that. Those two guys (Richardson, Barton) will bounce back but you do need more from them, especially on a stage like this. Their (Wildcats’) guards are making plays; we’ve got to make the same plays.”
Andrew Harrison scored a career-best 26 points for Kentucky, with Aaron adding 14. Fellow freshman superstar Julius Randle scored 16 first-half points but managed just two in the second for the Big Blue, now 13-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
Stokes came out smoking, producing the Vols’ first six points as Tennessee raced to an 18-9 lead eight minutes into the action. Andrew Harrison drained two 3-pointers and Aaron another, however, as the Wildcats clawed back to take their first lead of the game (34-32) at halftime.
With the score tied at 39 early in the second half, the Harrisons went off, combining for 15 points in a 19-9 Kentucky explosion that produced a 58-48 lead with 7:18 remaining. Down 60-53 with 5:38 to play, Tennessee still had a chance to spring the upset with a strong finish. The Vols squandered the opportunity, however, by going ice cold from the free-throw line.
After a driving five-footer by Andrew Harrison, Maymon missed both ends of a two-shot foul with 4:30 remaining. McRae missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:39 to play and the Vols down 64-58. Stokes then missed both ends of a two-shot foul with 52.9 seconds left and the outcome still in doubt at 66-58.
Tennessee wound up shooting 41.4 percent (24 of 58) from the field and a decent 69.6 percent (16 of 23) from the foul line but a dismal 15.4 percent (2 of 13) from 3. Surprisingly, the Vols won the backboards 39-24 against a Wildcat squad that boasted the SEC’s best rebound margin (plus-15.7) coming in. Tennessee recorded more turnovers (12) than assists (10).
Kentucky shot 44.0 percent (22 of 50) from the field, 43.8 percent (7 of 16) from 3 and a sizzling 95.8 percent (23 of 24) from the foul line. The Cats committed just eight turnovers.
Tennessee returns to action Wednesday night, hosting Arkansas at 8 o’clock in Thompson-Boling Arena.