Kentucky vs. Tennessee score: Wildcats deliver most impressive win of the year in thumping of Vols

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The longest win streak in Tennessee history is done at 19 games.

The top-ranked Volunteers took just their second loss of the season by way of a face-plant road performance against No. 5 Kentucky (21-4) on Saturday night. The Wildcats' 86-69 win ended Tennessee's unbeaten run in the SEC and puts them just a game behind the Vols (23-2) and LSU in league play.

John Calipari's team was fired up, physical, imposing and composed for much of the night.

In what was far and away the biggest game of the weekend in the sport, Kentucky reinforced the idea that it's a national title contender and, when at its best, among the most dangerous teams in college basketball. 

A 14-0 run to start the second half bloated Kentucky's lead from 37-31 to 51-31. It grew as large as 24 points, and the UK faithful blared the building to a fiery din. Tennessee made a 13-0 run later in the second half but it never closed the gap to double digits. 

Interestingly, Kentucky won through brute force -- but also with the 3. The Wildcats, just like the Volunteers, don't rely on the 3-ball as part of their offense, at least not a focal point. But UK freshman Keldon Johnson hit four triples in the first half (he finished with 19 points), and that was the biggest factor in keeping Kentucky ahead of UT. 

Kentucky and Tennessee came in shooting 23 and 24 percent of their respective shots from deep. On Saturday, 24.5 percent of UK's shots were 3s; Tennessee took 25 triples, accounting for 42.3 percent of their total field goal attempts. 

PJ Washington, who had a game-high 23 points, was the most impressive player on the floor. Washington has become this team's unquestioned alpha. On a night when Kentucky was looking to not just get a win but scream a statement, Washington provided lead vocals. With hook shots and crafty up-and-unders, Washington showed himself well in what's become an impressive year of growth for the sophomore. 

Tennessee's impressive duo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, who combine to average the fifth-most points per game of any 1-2 punch in college basketball, finished with a combined 33 points and missed 12 shots. Point guard Jordan Bone led UT with 19 points. 

Rick Barnes' team was done in by its lack of rebounding prowess. The Vols aren't consistent on the defensive end, and it was a killer on Saturday night. Kentucky got 12 second-chance opportunities. 

Big picture: The win for Kentucky keeps the Wildcats' hopes of eventually playing onto the 1 line in March alive. For Tennessee, the loss comes after demolishing opponents over the past two months, none of which currently project as NCAA Tournament teams. Given how badly Kentucky beat down Tennessee, there will be some who inevitably question the Volunteers' place among the elite -- at least for now -- in college basketball. 

Keep in mind: the rematch comes March 2 in Knoxville. Tennessee gets its chance at clap-back in its own gym in two weeks.

CBS Sports was with you throughout the game, providing insight and analysis from Rupp Arena. If you are having trouble viewing the live blog, please click here.

Thanks for stopping by.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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