Tennessee Basketball against Kentucky. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.
After suffering a loss to unranked Kentucky at home on Saturday afternoon, AP No. 5 Tennessee has dropped a few spots in ESPN’s latest power rankings, but still remains upright and in good shape.
While it’s important to note that ESPN’s power rankings have no actual weight in the sport, it is a fair indication of how the AP Top 25 could shake out when the new rankings are released this week.
ESPN’s Jeff Borzello dropped Rick Barnes’ Tennessee squad from No. 6 in the power rankings to No. 8 after the 63-56 loss to Kentucky on Saturday in Knoxville.
“Tennessee’s run toward the top five nationally ended in stunning fashion Saturday thanks to Kentucky,” Borzello wrote for ESPN. “The Vols’ offense really struggled against the Wildcats, not just including the 10-for-21 shooting on layups. They shot only 3-for-21 from 3, tied for the fewest perimeter shots made and worst 3-point percentage all season. Here’s where it gets worse: The team grabbed just 11.8% of its misses, also its fewest all season.”
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The Vols ranked fourth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage entering the game but were completely stuffed by Oscar Tshiebwe and Kentucky on the boards. Tennessee ranks at No. 9 in rebounding margin (+8/game) entering the new week of college basketball.
Tennessee has been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for the last six straight weeks. Whether they stay in the Top 10 after the loss to Kentucky, though, is still to be seen.
ESPN also listed Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee as the “Win of the Week.”
“Coming off a 26-point defeat to Alabama and a stunning home loss to South Carolina, the [Kentucky] Wildcats were missing key players to injury, had a coach linked to another job and were dealing with reports of upheaval behind the scenes within the athletic department,” Borzello wrote. “And then they went into Knoxville and beat one of the hottest teams in the country on their home court. Tennessee jumped out to an 8-0 lead early, and it looked like more of the same from Kentucky. But an injury to Sahvir Wheeler forced John Calipari to tweak his lineup, which allowed Antonio Reeves and CJ Fredrick to thrive. More importantly, the Wildcats played with some passion and energy defensively.”
Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider for the Week 11 AP Top 25 poll rankings that are set to release this week. The rankings typically release on a Monday, but with Jan. 16 being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is unclear whether a delay will take place or not. Stay tuned.