Tennessee basketball vs. Kentucky: Score prediction, scouting report

Tennessee basketball vs. Kentucky: Score prediction, scouting report

Tennessee basketball is riding high after notching a win against No. 1 Alabama on Wednesday.

No. 11 Tennessee (20-6, 9-4 SEC) plays at Kentucky (17-9, 8-5) on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, CBS). The Vols lost 63-56 to the Wildcats on Jan. 14 in the teams’ first regular-season meeting.

Here is what to know about the rematch:

WINNER: Tennessee basketball in control of Kentucky rivalry under Rick Barnes. Here are the results

TOGETHER: Tennessee basketball didn’t splinter. Vols answered against No. 1 Alabama.

Josiah-Jordan James, Julian Phillips updates

Tennessee won without Josiah-Jordan James (left ankle sprain) and Julian Phillips (hip flexor strain) against Alabama. The duo will be game-time decisions against Kentucky, Vols coach Rick Barnes said Friday.

James has missed two straight games with the ankle injury he suffered in the final minute at Vanderbilt on Feb. 8. Phillips missed his first game after leaving UT’s loss to Missouri due to the injury, which he suffered in practice on Feb. 10.

Jahmai Mashack, defensive menace

Jahmai Mashack stepped in with James and Phillips sidelined and played 27 minutes of elite defense. He spent most of it guarding Alabama star Brandon Miller, who scored 15 points on 11 shots. Miller entered averaging 18.8 points.

“He is locked in,” Barnes said of Mashack. “He has done that for us all year. Just a great example of a guy that can impact the game. … We need him. We are going to need him again (Saturday) doing the same thing.”

Mashack has seen an increased role in the past two games. The sophomore has played 48 total minutes against Missouri and Alabama. He had played more than 20 minutes once in SEC play prior to the past week.

He only scored five total points in the two games. Mashack said he needs to give more offensively, but Tennessee won Wednesday in large part because of his defense.

“I don’t feel like anyone can play as hard as me and I don’t want anyone to play as hard as me,” Mashack said.

How Kentucky beat Tennessee in the first matchup

Tennessee had a woeful shooting performance at the rim and on 3-pointers in their loss to Kentucky at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols were outrebounded 43-23 and Kentucky had 13 offensive rebounds to Tennessee’s four.

Uros Plavsic led the Vols with a career-high 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting. The rest of the Vols combined to shoot 14-for-46 overall and 3-for-21 on 3-pointers.

Score prediction

Tennessee 71, Kentucky 64: Tennessee has to avoid a clunky performance coming off its marquee win against top-ranked Alabama. The Vols do so and even the regular-season series against the Wildcats with a win at Rupp Arena.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.