Cats Pay Homage to Hall, Crush Vols

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky crushed its oldest rival in a performance that Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall would have liked to see as a fan or as a coach.

On a day the Wildcats were mourning the loss of their beloved coach, who died Saturday at the age of 93, the Wildcats beat their oldest rival Tennessee, 107-79 in a game that recalls the many lopsided losses Hall has suffered. inflicted on the Volunteers during his 13 seasons as Wildcats coach from 1972 to 1985.

“It was a game we wanted to win,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “…I told (Tennessee coach Rick Barnes) we’re not playing much better than what we just played.”

The school honored the late coach with a video tribute and a moment of silence before the whistleblower as Calipari looked on from the sidelines with a rolled-up program, a hallmark of Hall during his coaching career.

“It was a celebration for Coach Hall,” Calipari said. “…the greatest thing about all of this – he knew what people were thinking and how appreciated and loved he was before he died. He knew it and our fans have been so great with him. He was a mentor and a friend to me during my 13 years. … I’ll miss him. Until the very end, he smiled. He smiled. (He had) 93 good years, all I can say.

Calipari plans to honor Hall for the rest of the season by coaching with a rolled program, a staple for Hall during his tenure with the Wildcats. Calipari also sprinkled a 1-3-1 defense on the team’s first defensive possession, which Hall favored on defense. Calipari can carry the aggregate program for the rest of the season, but probably won’t use the 1-3-1 scheme.

Sahvir Wheeler drives to the basket against Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler. Wheeler scored 21 points in the win, while dishing out 8 assists. – Photo by Jeff Moreland

Sahvir Wheeler, who returns after missing the previous two games with a sprained neck, said the Wildcats wanted to win the game in honor of the school’s longtime coach.

“That energy, that spirit in the air (was here) knowing that we were going to do something special for a great coach who was here, accomplished really great things and also won a national championship here,” Wheeler said. .

Tennessee had beaten Kentucky in their previous two games at Rupp Arena but fell short as the Wildcats extended their winning streak to four games and went undefeated at home (12-0) this season. , giving Calipari its 200th home win at Kentucky in front of the biggest home crowd in two years.

“It’s who we are,” Calipari said. “That’s how we coach and that’s us. That’s what it’s all about and I want these kids to experience that and that’s why you come here.

TyTy Washington continued his impressive play against conference foes and led the Wildcats with 28 points, Washington made 10 of 13 shots from the field and added five assists. Washington pleaded to win League of the Week freshman honors for the fourth time when the accolades are handed out Monday.

Wheeler trailed Washington with 21 points and eight assists, Kellan Grady had 16 points and Davion Mintz came off the bench to score 10 points as four players totaled double digits. Oscar Tshiebwe just missed double numbers with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Tennessee, one of the best defensive teams in the conference, couldn’t stop the Wildcats, who turned in their best shooting performance of the year. Kentucky shot 68 percent from the field and had 11 shots from long range, led by Grady, who made four 3-pointers in the easier-than-expected victory.

“We keep playing like this, we’re not going to have too many (losses) for the rest of the year,” Wheeler said. “We played a great game against a great opponent.”

Game tracking: Kentucky at Texas A&M, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is a sportswriter for Kentucky Today. Reach him at [email protected] and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.

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