Tennessee and Kentucky will renew their rivalry tonight at Rupp Arena with both sides looking to bounce back from midweek losses. The Volunteers dropped one to a hot South Carolina team, while the Wildcats lost at home to Florida in overtime.
This rivalry has gone to a new level since Rick Barnes arrived. Since then, Tennessee has three wins at Rupp Arena and five wins over Kentucky in Knoxville. Overall, Barnes is 10-9 as Tennessee’s head coach against his good friend John Calipari.
Both programs are rolling so far this season. Tennessee enters as the No. 5 team in the country, while Kentucky comes in at No. 10. Both are projected top seeds in next month’s NCAA Tournament, and this game will certainly add to a resume going forward.
“They’re very explosive and can give it to you from all different levels in all different ways,” Rick Barnes said of Kentucky. “Great speed. A team that can really go on big runs against you.
“We’ve always talked about transition being a big key playing against Kentucky because of how fast they can get down the floor and get in the open court and try to play in space. And so transition defense is really important, obviously, and knowing that they’ve got guys that can, if they get space, they don’t need space. They’ve got some guys that can play off the bounce, but also guys that can really go up and make some very difficult shots.”
Per KenPom, Kentucky ranks 24th overall. Tennessee remains at No. 6.
How to watch Tennessee-Kentucky
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Streaming: Watch ESPN, ESPN App
Odds: Tennessee -1.5