Lexington, Ky. — No. 5 Kentucky got the strong start it sought against No. 1 Tennessee and for a moment was blowing out the Volunteers.
Most important was that the Wildcats finished off the Vols on a national stage, just what they needed days after letting one slip away.
PJ Washington scored 23 points, Keldon Johnson added 19 and Kentucky upset Tennessee 86-69 Saturday night to end the Volunteers’ school-record, 19-game winning streak.
The Wildcats used a 25-7 surge over a little more than seven minutes for a 62-38 lead, providing a cushion that withstood the Volunteers’ 13-0 spurt soon after that cut the advantage in half. Kentucky maintained a double-digit lead to win the highly anticipated matchup of top-five schools.
Kentucky (21-4, 10-2) also avoided a second consecutive SEC loss to stay within reach of co-leader Tennessee (23-2, 11-1), which hadn’t lost since Nov. 23 to No. 2 Kansas.
“It shows everybody that we can still play with great teams in this league and also in the country,” said Washington, who scored Kentucky’s first seven points and finished 9 of 12 from the field for his seventh 20-point effort in the past eight games.
Johnson, meanwhile, made 8 of 14 with three 3-pointers as the Wildcats shot 55 percent. Tyler Herro had 15 points and 13 rebounds as Kentucky beat Tennessee 39-26 on the glass.
It was a big improvement from Tuesday night’s 73-71 home loss to No. 19 LSU, a game decided on a last-second tip-in the Wildcats thought was basket interference. However, Kentucky played a big role with breakdowns and questionable shots that let the Tigers rally and eventually win the game.
The Wildcats rebounded with an effort that was thorough in many phases.
They outscored the Vols 36-20 in the paint and edged them 17-14 in second-chance points. And instead of letting Tennessee expand its one encouraging run, Kentucky did what it had to do to keep a double-digit advantage.
“I hit them right after the game with LSU and said, ‘Hey, that was a tough loss,’” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “But you know, we needed it. We need to go back to what we were, and sometimes you’ve got to get knocked in the head to know that.
“So the loss to LSU probably helped us win this game.”
Other than managing to enter the break trailing 37-31 and that second-half run, Tennessee wasn’t a factor.
Jordan Bone had 19 points and Admiral Schofield 17 for the Volunteers, who scored the game’s first basket but trailed afterward. Tennessee shot 35 percent in the second half and 41 percent overall.
“Tonight, we weren’t Tennessee tough,” Schofield said. “Kentucky was totally kicking our butt, scoring the ball, defense, everything.”
(At) No. 2 Duke 94, North Carolina State 78: RJ Barrett had Duke’s first triple-double in 13 years, finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Blue Devils’ victory.
Zion Williamson scored 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting and Tre Jones added 13 to help the Blue Devils (23-2, 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their ninth straight.
Barrett became the fourth Duke player with a triple-double and the first since Shelden Williams in January 2006. He completed it in the final minute, hitting Williamson for a layup that put Duke up 90-74.
Markell Johnson had 16 points and 10 assists for the Wolfpack (18-8, 6-7), who had their two-game winning streak snapped.
No. 3 Gonzaga 79, (at) San Diego 67: For the first 20 minutes Saturday night, Rui Hachimura and the Gonzaga Bulldogs looked pretty average. Once they got warmed up, there was no doubt they're one of the nation's best teams.
Hachimura scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half and had 10 rebounds and No. 3 Gonzaga tightened its defense and pulled away in the second half to beat San Diego for its 16th straight victory.
Zach Norvell Jr. added 18 points, Josh Perkins 15 and Brandon Clarke 14 for the Bulldogs (25-2, 12-0 West Coast). The nation's highest scoring team, Gonzaga had only 30 points in the first half, but then scored 31 points in the first 9:59 of the second half to take control.
Gonzaga shot 69 percent (20 of 29) in the second half to finish at 58.2 percent (32 of 55).
(At) No. 4 Virginia 60, Notre Dame 54: Kyle Guy scored 22 points, De’Andre Hunter had 20 with 10 rebounds and Virginia withstood a late push by Notre Dame.
Hunter scored six points during a 9-0 run for the Cavaliers (22-2, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) after the Fighting Irish closed to within 45-44 with 8:12 left.
T.J. Gibbs scored 17 and D.J. Harvey had 10 for Notre Dame (13-12, 3-9).
Notre Dame got within 54-52 in the final minute after Virginia went scoreless for more than four minutes. But Guy made four free throws to seal it.
No. 8 North Carolina 95, (at) Wake Forest 57: Cameron Johnson scored 27 points, and North Carolina scored the game’s first 18 points en route to its biggest-ever margin of victory in an Atlantic Coast Conference road game.
Freshman Coby White added 10 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Tar Heels (20-5, 10-2), who dominated from the tip following their first loss in a month.
Freshman Jaylen Hoard scored 17 points in an ugly afternoon for the Demon Deacons (9-15, 2-10), who suffered their most lopsided loss in three decades at Joel Coliseum.
(At) No. Kansas 78, West Virginia 53: Devon Dotson and K.J. Lawson each scored 15 points, and Kansas beat depleted West Virginia.
Dedric Lawson, K.J.’s brother, had 14 points for the Jayhawks (20-6, 9-4 Big 12), who won their third straight as they continue to start four freshmen.
Lamont West and Chase Harler scored 11 points apiece for West Virginia (10-15, 2-10), which struggled without former starters Esa Ahmed and Wesley Harris, who were dismissed from the team earlier in the week for violating athletic department policies.
(At) No. 15 Texas Tech 86, Baylor 61: Jarrett Culver scored 18 points and Davide Moretti added 17 as Texas Tech cruised past short-handed and turnover-prone Baylor.
Jared Butler scored 16 points and Mario Kegler added 15 for the Bears (16-9, 7-5 Big 12), who were without key backcourt players Makai Mason (foot) and King McClure (knee) for the third consecutive game.
Texas Tech (21-6, 9-4 Big 12) stayed in second place in the conference by using an uncharacteristic hot hand from 3-point range to surge into a first-half lead that was never threatened.
(At) No. 16 Louisville 56, Clemson 55: Christen Cunningham scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to rally Louisville, which hung on in the final seconds.
The Cardinals (18-8, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 56-49 with 17 seconds left after a free throw by Steven Enoch but then nearly lost a third straight in disastrous fashion. Marcquise Reed hit two 3-pionters that cut the deficit to one, but Louisville survived.
Elijah Thomas led the Tigers (15-10, 5-7) with 15 points. Reed had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
No. 17 Florida State 69, (at) Georgia Tech 47: Christ Koumadje had 10 points and 12 rebounds as Florida State tied a school record with its seventh straight Atlantic Coast Conference win.
Freshman Devin Vassell came off the bench to score a team-high 11 while playing in his hometown for the Seminoles (20-5, 8-4).
Georgia Tech (11-15, 3-10) lost its seventh straight ACC game with another offensive struggle. Jose Alvarado led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points.
No. 19 LSU 83, (at) Georgia 79: Tremont Waters scored 20 points, Ja’vonte Smart added 19 and LSU won its fourth straight game.
The Tigers (21-4, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) are off to their best start in league play since the 1981 Final Four team was 11-0. They never trailed after Smart’s 3-pointer midway through the second half, but Georgia (10-15, 1-11) stayed close and didn’t allow LSU to lead by more than eight the rest of the way.
No. 23 Iowa State 78, (at) No. 18 Kansas State 64: Lindell Wigginton hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points, Talen Horton-Tucker buried six 3s and had 20, and Iowa State pulled away late to tighten up the Big 12 title race.
Marial Shayok added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Cyclones (19-6, 8-4), who pulled within a game of the Wildcats (19-6, 9-3) with six games to go in the conference schedule.
Barry Brown had 23 points for the Wildcats, but he didn’t get a whole lot of help. The rest of the team was a combined 2 of 13 from the 3-point arc and 11 of 34 from the field.
No. 22 Virginia Tech 70, (at) Pittsburgh 64: Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored a season-high 29 points, Ahmed Hill added 14 and Virginia Tech held off slumping Pittsburgh.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Blackshear overwhelmed the undersized Panthers, making his first six field goal attempts on his way to a nearly flawless performance.
The Hokies (20-5, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won two straight following a two-game losing streak.
Xavier Johnson led Pitt (12-14, 2-11) with 18 points.