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Cats blow 8-point lead in final 3 minutes, fall 82-78 to Vols


NASHVILLE — Kentucky had the game right where it wanted with a 72-64 lead over Tennessee with less than three remaining in the SEC Tournament semifinals here Saturday.

Instead, Tennessee rode the play of Grant Williams to a miraculous rally to beat Kentucky 82-78. The Vols hit four of their final five shots and scored 18 points in the final 2 minutes, 45 seconds to beat UK for the second time in three tries this season.

“With an eight-point lead we should win that game but they (Tennessee) said they were not stopping. You’ve got to give them credit,” Kentucky coach John Calipari.

Kentucky had five players in double digits — led by PJ Washington’s 16 — but made two costly turnovers in the final minutes. Tyler Herro was called for a walk and then Keldon Johnson was called for having the ball out of bounds. If that wasn’t enough, Reid Travis also fouled out on a Grant Williams spin move that turned into a 3-point play that cut the lead to 72-69 after the Herro walk. Thirteen seconds earlier he made two free throws — he was 9-for-11 at the line and had 20 points.

After Washington dunk, Admiral Schofield buried an open 3 for the Vols and then came Johnson’s turnover followed by a rare Williams’ 3-pointer to give Tennessee the lead with 126 to play. Washington got the lead back for UK by following his own miss but Williams — who else — got an offensive rebound for the Vols that led to a dagger 3 by Lamonte Turner and the Vols put the game away at the foul line.

“We had our chances. We had a lead late and we usually don’t give up those kind of games,” Calipari said. “A couple of things go against you and they took advantage, which they have done all year, and they win the game. Just got to watch the tape. All we had to do was rebound that last ball (when Williams got Schofield’s miss).”

“It was great,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I walked down the hallway and one of my coaches said it was the greatest game he was ever involved in. It was a great game because two teams were going at each other. It’s what you would expect from two teams that had great years.”

Both will get to continue those great years in the NCAA Tournament after Tennessee plays Auburn for the SEC Tournament title (the Vols have not won a SEC tourney since 1979) on Sunday.

A win would have put UK in great position to have been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA. Calipari said he didn’t know if his team still would be but said at worst UK should be the top No. 2 seed.

“We play next weekend, so we are fine,” Washington said. “Down the stretch we made some mistakes.”

He said he told younger teammates they have to “keep fighting” despite the loss.

“We have still got a bigger tournament. Got to be focused whoever we play (in the NCAA),” Washington said.


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  1. YOUNG and DONE. How do you have a team that has 5 players scoring double figures, out-rebound other team, and choke away 12 point swing in 3 mins? We keep repeating the same bad habits…we can’t defend the 3, can’t finish at the rim, miss too many in-close shots and give more turnovers than we get. A lot of the guys played well but Tyler wasn’t one of them today. We certainly are not playing anywhere a #1 seed, and I do not see this team even making it to Final 8. EJ and Nick finally get some offense going, but EJ played 22 mins and got 1 board…really.

  2. There s been lot of crying by our BBN fans that there blaming the referees. CAT FANS SUCK IT UP WE JUST BLEW IT. Don’t blame the referees. I really thought CAL put the brakes on too early when had the lead instead playing up tempo to put the game out of reach.

  3. UK will be a 2 seed…not bad, IMO.

  4. Post-game comments continue to hit Cal for late game strategy and deservedly so. UT owned the FT line, 3 pt line, and had there way inside. We just don’t have a good interior defense without fouling and PJ main culprit there. Can’t imagine actually how good he could be if he tried to play both halves in a game and would stop showboating. Barnes now owns Cal….ditto for K…and possibly Self as well.

  5. Give Rick Barnes credit. He sent a hatchet man in to get a second foul on PJ and PJ took the bait. We need 30+ minutes of focused play from PJ and all season long we get one half and nothing more. What makes PJ think he is NBA ready? He is not the best player in America, he is not even the best player in the SEC. He needs to come back at least one more year to learn how to play a full game and then take that value to the NBA. If he leaves now, he will not be a first round pick…take that to the bank.

    Tyler was pretty much taken out of his game by a sticky man to man defense that would not give him many open looks. He also had trouble guarding his man in the first half. He needs to come back for at least another year.

    Keldon was on again and off again throughout the game. He is not NBA ready either. It goes without saying that Ashton needs to stay. He did a better job of scoring than he has in the past couple of games but missed a layup and had trouble all day staying in front of his man. When UT came with their press, we didn’t respond well and there went the 8 point lead.

    Nick and EJ showed flashes of improvement but neither rebounded like 7 footers should. Immanuel pretty much disappeared and Baker never really got in the game.

    All in all, every team now has a blueprint on how to play us and I will be surprised if we win more than 2 games in the Tourney.

  6. Lots of very good comments. I haven’t watched the game yet since I’m Afib and
    get too emotionally upset watching real time, which at 82yrs old doesn’t work well for me. After I know the results, then I can really enjoy the game and study it more objectively…kind of fascinating seeing if I see what other see or don’t see. I enjoy “another opinion” and try to stay away from the wording, “different opinion”, since to me that implies a right vs wrong implication and prevents me from making more room and space for respecting the impute of others. I guess what I’m saying is that I appreciate all the posters taking time out to make the game even more interesting . That’s my corn pone line for today.

    1. Sir…very well spoken and appreciated. I had picked UT to win but having problems accepting this loss especially with good at under 3 mins. We have gutys that don’t show up for games and couple others that only show for a half.

    2. Well Larry
      I also have a heart that is beating irregularly, that’s why I moved to Utah to be closer to a good cardiologist
      When my Dad played Basketball they wore pads
      When I played they called fouls when you just touched the opposing player
      Now they are wearing pads again
      They changed the rules to accommodate players like Michael Jordan
      Zion, Schofield and Williams look more like defensive linemen in the Pro Football league
      And the officiating is truly unbelievable
      So for my own health sake like “hope for best” I have to stop watching college basketball
      I want to thank you for an excellent job you did like your father did.
      Best of luck to you and all the loyal Kentucky fans

      1. Thanks for posting Claude. Hope things are okay and appreciate the kind words

    3. Great post hope for the best . Hang in there

  7. Even we loss, I like what i saw we play nearly a complete game something that we haven’t done much this season. The last three minutes kill us had we rebound the ball at the end of the game we would have won the game. That’s when we miss Travis when he foul out.

  8. Tough loss. I saw two great teams battle to the end. On On UK. I hate UT with a passion, but give them credit. Didn’t think the refs did UK any favors though, especially late. and with two quick fouls against PJ, they neutralized him early on. The foul that put five and out of the game status for Reid was troubling. Didn’t see much there, and such a critical point in the game too. The stripes were letting UT mug and manhandle UK’s players all day long. Alexander did foul out for UT, so they have that to throw back in my face. They call fouls on Richards for just looking crossed eyed it seems to me. I did see him commit one foul that was legit. I don’t even know what a foul is anymore. Some of you on here that want to jump on our players after such a hard fought loss can go suck eggs. I didn’t see any quit in any of them. They just let UT shoot a few open threes down the stretch, and that proved lethal.

  9. Larry Pup, some of our fans can say things about our team has no idea what it’s like to be playing on the hardwood. They represent Kentucky with pride and put a lot of sweat and tears to play the game. It’s easy saying than it can be done the way our fans want it to be. I thought they play really well just didn’t get the stops at the end.

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