LEXINGTON, Ky. — As the game turned: In the always hostile environment of Rupp Arena, Tennessee kept the Wildcat faithful relatively quiet in the game's early stages. Jarnell Stokes scored eight points in less than five minutes. Kentucky made just three of its first 11 shots, and the Vols dominated the glass en route to a 22-13 lead mid-way through the first half.
"It felt good to get off to a great start because we were playing at our pace," Stokes said.
A Julius Randle put-back dunk would soon awake the 24,246 in attendance as Kentucky reeled off a 10-2 run to end the half, entering the locker room with a two-point lead.
"I think the last three minutes of the first half they made plays," head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Randle did a great job putting the team on his back, getting to the rim, getting fouled, making his free throws.
"I thought they did just enough in the first half to take the lead, get a little momentum."
Kentucky's late surge spilled over into the second half as James Young's 3-pointer extended the Wildcat lead to five just seconds in.
Jordan McRae—who scored 17 points but made just one field goal in the second half—briefly gave UT a 39-37 advantage with 17:39 remaining.
That, however, would be the Vols' last lead of the afternoon as Kentucky's Harrison twins—Aaron and Andrew—combined for 27 second half points.
"They're talented ball players," Martin said. "I had seen them quite a bit in high school, so we knew they were very talented."
UT would get no closer than five in the game's final nine minutes.
"I think a lot of different things happened to help Kentucky get back into the game, forward Jerrone Maymon said. "It's their gym; they are going to make runs.
"We handled ourselves pretty good we just couldn't get the ball to fall in the last couple minutes."
Hot topic: The SEC's fourth-highest rebounding team coming into Saturday's contest, the Vols continued their success on the boards, out-rebounding the Wildcats 20-7 on the offensive glass and 39-24 overall.
Stokes, however, saw Saturday's effort as just another day at the office.
"We've been rebounding like that all season," Stokes said. "They have blue uniforms so everyone wanted to make it into a big deal, but we've been doing that the entire season to just about every opponent we've played against."
But after discovering how uncharacteristic Kentucky's glass performance was—the Wildcats led the conference and were fourth nationally in rebounding before Saturday's contest—the junior forward game the lopsided figures some credit.
"That's my first time knowing that (Kentucky ranked so highly in rebounding)," Stokes said. "I had no idea they were as good of a rebounding team. I guess it means a lot."
The other guys: Andrew Harrison poured in 22 points, and Randle added 18 as Kentucky picked up its third conference win of the season.
Outside the box score: Stokes' 20-point, 15-rebound performance marked his ninth double-double of the season and 27th of his career, tying Len Kosmalski for eighth all-time in program history.
Say something: Kentucky head coach John Calipari on what he told freshman James Young about inbounding the ball:
"You're not supposed to take it out, whether you're close to the ball, far from the ball or the ball hits you in the head, you don't take it out."
By the numbers:
95.8: Kentucky shot 95.8 percent from the free throw line, going 23-of-24.
0: Josh Richardson and Antonio Barton combined for zero points in the first half.
20: UT doubled up the Wildcats on second-chance points, outscoring Kentucky 20-10.
Up next: The Vols return home on Wednesday when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 8 p.m.