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Reeves, Sheppard lead No. 15 Kentucky over No. 4 Tennessee 85-81

No. 15 Kentucky closed the regular season with a thrilling 85-81 win over No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee.

When beat on Feb. 3 at Rupp Arena, head coach thought that the Vols were the tougher team.

Given a second chance to play the Vols on Saturday, this time inside Thompson-Boling Arena, the Cats showed a toughness and maturity that could bode well as the postseason begins.

and each scored 27 points as No. 15 Kentucky topped fourth-ranked Tennessee 85-81.

For Reeves, it was the 19th time this season, and the seventh game in a row, in which he has scored at least 20 points.

The Cats got 16 points and six rebounds from and 11 points, including the game-clinching free throw, from . Kentucky's freshmen combined for 58 points in the game.

UK hit 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) from beyond the arc, including 9 of 14 (64.3 percent) in the second half.

Kentucky (23-8, 13-5 Southeastern Conference) scored first on an Edwards basket but UT took the lead on a Dalton Knecht three. The Cats took the lead back on an acrobatic layup by . After Tennessee tied the game at 4-4, Dillingham scored at the rim and Reeves hit a free throw to make it 7-4.

Tennessee tied the game on a three by Zakai Ziegler and the Vols would lead 10-7 before Sheppard hit a short jumper. UT would lead 12-9 before Reeves tied the game with a three from the top of the key. And on the next possession, Sheppard hit a three of his own to give UK a 15-12 advantage. Reeves would follow with another three and the Cats led by six after a 9-0 run.

After UT scored the next four points, Edwards hit a baseline jumper and Reeves hit a jumper to make it 22-16. After UT scored the next four points, Edwards hit consecutive threes to give UK a 28-18 advantage.

Tennessee would answer with a 9-3 run to make it 31-27 with 1:15 to play in the half. Kentucky would lead 33-29 at the half.

The Vols scored the first three points of the second half before Kentucky got two Reeves free throws and a Sheppard three to lead 38-32. The Cats would continue to hold the Vols at bay, although UT got within three, 42-39. However, Kentucky responded with a Rob Dillingham layup and free throw and threes from Sheppard and Reeves to lead 51-39.

After Knecht hit a pair of layups, UK got three free throws from Reeves to lead 54-43 with 13:49 to play. After a Knecht three, UK got threes from Sheppard and Edwards to stretch the lead to 60-46.

Later in the half, Dillingham hit a three to extend the UK lead to 68-54 before the Vols made a run. UT scored nine straight to cut the UK lead to 68-63 with 7:32 to play. The run would end with a pair of Dillingham free throws, making it 70-63.

The teams would trade a pair of baskets each before Sheppard hit a three to give the Cats a 77-67 lead with 4:02 to play. After a Ziegler layup, Sheppard hit another three to extend the UK lead to 80-69.

Tennessee scored the next four points to cut the deficit to seven, 80-73, but Sheppard hit a pair of free throws with 1:58 left to give UK an 82-73 lead. Wagner added a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 84-73 but Ziegler hit a three to get the Vols within eight, 84-76. Ziegler then stole the inbounds pass, made a layup and was fouled. He converted the free throw to make it 84-79 with 47 seconds to play.

UT created another turnover on Kentucky's next possession and Josiah-Jordan James hit both free throws to make it 84-81 with 31 seconds left.

The Cats were called for a 10-second violation on the next possession and UT got the ball back with 21 seconds left and a chance to tie.

The Vols got an open look but missed and Dillingham was fouled with five seconds to play. He missed the first free throw but made the second, and the game was over.

Knecht led all scorers with 40 points in the game.

Kentucky returns to action on Friday in the Tournament in Nashville. The time and opponent are yet to be determined.

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