UK basketball loses in Knoxville for third straight season


PJ Washington finishes a layup through contact during the first half of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday, January 6, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

P.J. Washington and the rest of the UK basketball players dominated the first half against the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Vols as they lost 65-76.

Washington finished the game with 13 points, three rebounds, an assist, two blocks and three steals as he filled up the stat sheet to try to lift the Cats to their second straight road victory.

The forward was especially dominant in the first half against the Vols as he was the first player in the game to reach double-digits. However, he had to leave the game halfway through the second half due to cramping in his right leg.

Fellow forward Wenyen Gabriel also filled it up for the Cats, hitting his first three three-point shots to give him nine first-half points. He was less active in the second half due to fouling out with more than 11 minutes left in the game.

The Cats seemed to own the first half as they held the Vols to a season-low 29 points. UK notched four blocks in the first half, but the Cats couldn’t stop any shots in the second half, letting Tennessee shoot 54 percent from the field in the second half after only shooting 33 percent in the first.

Fouls held down the ability of the Cats on both ends as Gabriel and guard Hamidou Diallo both fouled out in the second half, hurting the UK rotation on top of the injury to Washington.

The Volunteers capitalized on the limited UK team by outscoring the Cats 47-28 in the second half, including outdueling them 24-10 in the paint. To cap off the comeback effort, Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield took a block for a breakaway dunk after the shot clock turned off to give the Volunteers their final double-digit lead.

After this win, Tennessee becomes the only school to defeat UK three straight times on their home floor in the John Calipari era as the Cats have failed to get victories in Knoxville, even while holding as much as a 21-point lead several years ago.

The No. 17 Cats will look to bounce back on Tuesday, Dec. 9 as they take on Texas A&M at home.