Ramel Bradley had 16 points and Perry Stevenson added 14 points and seven rebounds for Kentucky (8-9, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) which held the Volunteers (16-2, 3-1) to just three field goals over the final 10 minutes to snap their 11-game winning streak.
Playing with the kind of sustained effort first-year coach Billy Gillispie has been preaching would come once his team was healthy, Kentucky shut down the SEC's highest-scoring offense with a gritty defensive performance that was the trademark of the teams Gillispie coached at Texas A&M.
Tennessee star Chris Lofton led the Volunteers with 22 points, knocking down five 3-pointers to set the SEC record for career 3s with 367, breaking the mark held by former Arkansas guard Pat Bradley.
Wayne Chism added 12 points and six rebounds and Ramar Smith had 10 points for the Volunteers, but Tennessee lost its composure after building a 10-point lead early in the second half.
The Volunteers seemed ready to pull away after a dunk by Chism gave them a 43-33 lead, but Kentucky rallied to tie the game at 50 on consecutive 3-pointers by Joe Crawford with just over 11 minutes to play.
The teams spent the next 9 minutes trading the lead before the Wildcats went ahead for good on two free throws by Bradley with 1:30 left that put Kentucky up 62-60.
Tyler Smith missed a 3-pointer -- a common refrain for the Volunteers in the final minutes
-- and Bradley hit two more free throws to push the lead to four. Lofton then missed a rushed 3-pointer and Jodie Meeks hit two free throws to put it away.
Kentucky was 24-of-28 from the free throw line and shot 49 percent from the field.
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Tennessee shot just 39 percent from the field, including 7-of-26 on 3-pointers. Take out Lofton's 5-of-10 effort from behind the arc, and the rest of the Volunteers were just 2-of-16.
Gillispie knew his young, inexperienced squad couldn't run with the Volunteers, so Kentucky spent most of the game grinding it out. The Wildcats would run 25 to 30 seconds off the shot clock at times, trying to shorten the game.
It worked despite the best efforts of Lofton. Mired in a shooting slump for much of the season, Lofton didn't waste any time heating up on the court where he became a high school legend. The native of Maysville
-- about an hour northeast of Rupp Arena -- gave the Wildcats one last look at what they've been missing the last four years.
He hit a 3-pointer 2 minutes in, then took advantage of some overaggressive Kentucky defense by faking the jumper then slicing through the lane for two layups. He ended the half in style, giving the Volunteers a 36-30 lead with a fallaway 3-pointer just before the horn sounded.
[Associated Press; By WILL GRAVES]
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