*All UT stats before Mississippi State game on 1/12

Projected Starters:

Tennessee 8-7, 1-0 SEC


G Trae Golden        14.6    

G Josh Richardson        3.2

G Cameron Tatum        9.5

F Jeronne Maymon    11.2

F Renaldo Woolridge    6.2

No. 2 Kentucky 16-1, 2-0 SEC


G Marquis Teague        10.8

G Doron Lamb        14.6    

F Terrence Jones        11.8

F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist    13.6

F Anthony Davis         12.7

How They Match-up:

UT            UK    

74.5    Scoring O    80.1

68.7    Scoring D    58.7

46.5    FG %        48.6

37.5    3-Pt. %    36.6

69.7    FT %        71.5

+2.9 Reb. Mar.    +7.9

5.1    BPG        9.2

14.6    APG        15.6

6.1    SPG        6.9

-1    T/O Mar.    +1    

Last five games:


Dec. 23 - vs ETSU (Win 66-63)

Dec. 29 - vs The Citadel (Win 86-55)

Jan. 2 - vs Chattanooga (Win 76-63)

Jan. 4 - at Memphis Loss (Loss 69-51)
Jan. 7 - vs No. 13 Florida (Win 67-56)


Dec. 28 - vs Lamar (Win 86-64)

Dec. 31 - vs No. 4 Louisville (Win 69-62)

Jan. 3 - vs Arkansas Little Rock (Win 73-51)

Jan. 7 - vs South Carolina (Win 79-64)

Jan 11 - at Auburn (Win 68-53)

Last year:

Feb. 8 in Lexington, Ky. — Kentucky 73-61

The Wildcats swept the Vols during the 2010-11 season. The teams’ first matchup of the season was also former UT coach Bruce Pearl’s first SEC game of the season after serving an eight-game conference suspension. UT also played with an injured Scotty Hopson, who had missed UT’s previous two games with an ankle injury. The No. 18 Wildcats kept their lead in double-figures for much of the contest.

March 6 in Knoxville — Kentucky 64-58

The No. 2 seed in the SEC East for the conference tournament was on the line in the second meeting. Despite a fast start for the Vols in their home-finale, the Wildcats rallied behind freshman point guard Brandon Knight, who scored all 19 of his points in the second half, to lift UK to the win. UT great Allan Houston’s No. 2 was retired at halftime of the game. Houston is the Vols’ all-time leading scorer with 2,801 points during his four-year career from 1990-93.

Why the Vols will win:

There are not a lot of reasons to believe Tennessee can beat No. 2 Kentucky. The Vols’ only saving grace is that they’re playing in the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena. Under former coach Bruce Pearl, that fact alone tended to be a boost, especially against top teams. In fact, UT went 4-0 against the top five at home under Pearl. Coincidentally, the last win in that category was in 2010 against another second-ranked Wildcats squad, 74-65. That was the same year an undermanned UT squad topped No. 1 Kansas. The Vols knocked off then No. 13 Florida last week at TBA in their last home game. If the Vols can improve their scoring defense, which currently ranks last in the SEC, and keep the score close late, they may be able to pull off yet another upset to climb in the conference standings and keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

Why the Wildcats will win:

With any Kentucky team, especially under John Calipari, the Wildcats are talented and filled with future NBA players. UK’s only blemish on the year is a 73-72 loss at Indiana on Dec. 10. Six Wildcats score in double-figures, led by sophomore Doron Lamb’s 14.6. UK can score as well as any team in the country and UT has struggled at times on the defensive end. Big man Anthony Davis is a shot-blocking machine, averaging 4.6 a game. The Wildcats are arguably the best and most complete team in the country and a trip to the Final Four is well within reach, even expected by many. Calipari always has his teams ready for the Vols — maybe because of the rivalry with former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl — but the UT-UK game is always special to fans of both schools.