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By LARRY VAUGHT
Life without Nerlens Noel got off to a record-setting start for Kentucky here Saturday, but it was not the kind of records the Wildcats wanted to be part of.
Tennessee beat UK 88-58 — it’s biggest victory margin in 216 games against Kentucky — and snapped a six-game losing streak to the Wildcats. It was Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin’s first win over Kentucky.
Tennessee’s previous biggest win over UK was 87-59 in 1968. The only other 20-point victories came in a 107-85 victory in 1992 and 30-10 win back in 1917.
Kentucky coach John Calipari came into this week with his worst loss being a 17-point setback to eventual national champion Connecticut in the 2010 Maui Invitational. Then UK lost by 17 points at Florida Tuesday and now by 30 points at Tennessee.
It was only the fifth time in Calipari’s college coaching career that he’s had a team lose by 30 or more points. The others were 88-56 to West Virginia on Feb. 16, 1989; 105-74 to Duquesne on Feb. 18, 1989; and 109-79 to Penn State on Jan. 5, 1989. All came when he was coaching at Massachusetts and all came in his first year. Calipari’s worst loss during his tenure at Memphis (2000-2009) was a 23-point loss against Stanford (83-60) on Nov. 24, 2000.
“We gave up four offensive rebounds in the first two minutes — you aren’t going to win. We have to go back to the drawing board. I’m going to have to figure out what we are going to do offensively, and we’ll go from here,” said Calipari after the game. “I’ll burn the tape from this one. I won’t watch it. I had to sit through it, so I’m not going to sit through it again.”