John Calipari, Willie-Cauley Stein have reasons for revenge versus Tennessee Vols


For the most part, the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team has been living a semi charmed kind of life ever since John Calipari rolled into Lexington in 2009.  Three Final Fours in five seasons and an 25-0 start to the sixth season will pretty much wash the Billy Gillispie taste out of Wildcat fans mouths.  But there are still some things that Calipari’s Wildcats have to atone for and tops on my list is the last trip to Knoxville in 2013.

The Wildcats were fresh off the loss of Nerlens Noel and ran into a big orange buzzsaw that chewed up the Wildcats and spit them out 88-58.

How bad was the loss?  It was the fifth largest margin of defeat in the Wildcats last 80 seasons and easily the worst loss of John Calipari’s Kentucky career.  The game was tied at 7, but the Vols went on a 9 point streak and never looked back.  That was part of a larger Vols tear where the Vols went 28-5 and took a 37-12 lead.  John Robic got tossed from the game.

It was obvious that Kentucky missed Nerlens Noel and that Willie Cauley-Stein had a game to forget.

"Without Noels, who averaged 4.4 blocks a game, Tennessee went inside often and had plenty of success. Trae Golden led the Vols with 24 and picked up many of his points from the free throw line, hitting 11-12.As a team, Tennessee shot 58 percent from the floor and went to the free-throw line 31 times. They won about every battle in the post, outrebounded the Wildcats 33-20.Willie Cauley-Stein, the freshman center expected to shoulder much of Noel’s load, was a non-factor for most of the game. He finished with two blocks, but struggled with foul trouble before finally fouling out with over nine minutes left to play."

Cauley-Stein had just two points and four turnovers on his game to forget.  These stats from ESPN point out how bad this game really was:

"Research Notes"

"Kentucky’s defense struggled without Nerlens Noel on Saturday, allowing 137.5 points per 100 possessions, its worst defensive efficiency in any game since the 2000-01 season. It was Tennessee’s highest offensive efficiency in any SEC game in the last five seasons.[+]The Wildcats have been singing the blues since losing big man Nerlens Noel for the season Tuesday. Noel was injured with roughly 8 minutes left to play in the game at Florida and since that time Kentucky has been outscored by 35 points and opponents are shooting close to 60 percent from the field against them.[+]From Elias: Kentucky is the 4th defending champion to lose by at least 30 points in the last 30 seasons.[+]Kentucky’s 30-point loss to Tennessee is tied for its 5th-worst loss in the last 80 seasons![+]The 50 points allowed by Kentucky in the first half vs Tennessee matches the most points allowed in any half by Kentucky under coach John Calipari (also done Nov. 24, 2010 vs Connecticut and November 19, 2009 vs Sam Houston State).ESPN Stats & Information"

Kentucky enters tonight’s game as a 14 point favorite but you would think that the recent snowstorms will keep some Kentucky fans from making the trip. Regardless, Kentucky has won in tougher road games this year and should be able to make it 26-0. Don’t think for a moment that John Calipari and Willie Cauley-Stein have forgotten for a moment what happened the last time they were in Knoxville.