- Saturday, January 21 1939 -
Tennessee - 30 (Head Coach: John Mauer)
Kentucky - 29 (Head Coach: Adolph Rupp)
Halftime Score: Kentucky 14, Tennessee 11
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Game Writeup - by Laurence Shropshire, Lexington Herald
Tennessee Comes from Behind to Beat Kentucky, 30 to 29
Wildcats Lead Most of Game
The once-ruthless Kentucky Wildcats blew a ball game, Saturday night, bowing to Tennessee by 30-29 in a mild Southeastern Conference basketball upset and treating the overflow crowd of 4,000 fans to something of a spectacle - a defeat for Kentucky on its home court.
Only four times previously in nine years had a Kentucky team coached by Adolph Rupp been whipped on its own floor. The last time it happened was when Alabama pulled an upset a couple of seasons back.
Satisfaction for the fifth defeat of the Wildcats fell, ironically enough, to Johnny Mauer, the former Kentucky coach, now in his first season as tutor of the Tennesseans.
Mauer, who directed the Wildcat cagers for three years before being succeeded by Rupp at the start of the 1930-31 season, was almost overcome by joy in the surprise triumph by his Volunteers. He rushed onto the floor as the final gun sounded to thump his boys happily on the back, and was so nearly overwhelmed that he could only mutter incoherent responses to congratulations.
Wildcats Off Form
The Wildcats making their first start of the season against conference competition, literally threw the game into the junk pile.
They lost the decision by the narrowest possible margin, but on the basis of their wild and ineffective play, they deserved to lose by 50 points.
Occasionally the Kentucky boys showed flashes of clear superiority over the visiting quintet, but such flashes were few and far between. Too, on such occasions they usually blew easy shots at the basket, altogether during the evening missing what looked like a million good chances.
Tennessee was no better as far as good floor play was concerned, but the Vols did keep trying, and that's what enabled them to come from behind in the final five minutes of the fray to register their one-point triumph.
The 'Cats generally were off form in passing as well as shooting, heaving the ball clear out of the court many times. The team never really clicked at any time during the struggle, and Mickey Rouse alone looked like he was really in his regular form.
Wildcat supporters were all set to make the team's debut in the conference an auspicious one. The gym was full for the first time this season -- in fact, it was jammed and overflowing; the band turned out for the first time, the cheer-leaders made their initial bow indoors, and Gov. A.B. Chandler put in his appearance to cheer the U.K. cagers on to victory.
But all that failed to help, and the erratic 'Cats, earlier regarded as potentially one of the strongest Kentucky clubs in recent years, certainly were unable to help themselves.
They equaled the Vols in field goals, each team getting 11, but they made a miserable showing in converting but seven out of 16 chances from the free-throw line.
At that the Vols didn't do much better, but they sank one of the two extra free throws they had and thus made their conference record to date read two wins against two losses.
Vols Score First
The Vols were the first to score in the fray, counting on a foul dropped through by Huffman. A moment later, Farnsley twisted through one of his southpaw specialties, following it with two free throws and Kentucky had the lead of 4-1.
The visitors evened the count on a long shot by Huffman and a foul by Logan, but Kentucky went ahead again on a lengthy looper by Rouse. The Vols never caught up again during the first half, the Kentucky edge at the intermission being 14-11.
As play was resumed, two crips by Thompson, who had replaced Cluggish late in the first half, and a free throw by Curtis boosted the Kentucky total to 19, while foul shots by Putnam and Logan left the Vols trailing by six points.
Then, with only five minutes of the period gone, Tennessee began to cut into the Kentucky lead. Putnam missed two free tosses, but followed up the second with a push good for two points that started the rally.
With six minutes left and the Vols trailing by one point, Putnam got loose for a crip that made the lead change hands. Huber restored the margin for Kentucky with a potshot from the corner, but a moment later Huffman shoved one through from under the basket, making the count 27-26 for Tennessee, and the Vols were never headed thereafter.
Huffman added another point on a foul, and Thomas, who a moment later went out of the game on his fourth personal, made good on one of two free tosses with only three minutes left.
The Vols fought determinedly to hold possession of the ball, and the Wildcats were driving in desperation trying to get hold of it.
Finally Thompson was fouled, but he missed the throw. Logan a few seconds later grabbed a loose ball near the center of the floor and dribbled down in the open toward his own goal, but blew the crip as Huber came charging behind him. Opper fired a long shot which looked perfect, but the ball spun around inside the hoop and popped back out.
Thomas was fouled again as he attempted to twist loose for a shot from under the basket. He made good his first toss but failed on the second and Kentucky trailed by 29-27 with but 45 seconds left to play.
Thompson Scores in Last Moment
Huffman pushed the Tennessee tally up to 30 when he dropped in a charity toss, but Thompson, who had proved to be always dangerous when Thomas wasn't in the game to guard him, plopped through another twisting shot for Kentucky's dying gesture. The game ended before the 'Cats ever touched the ball again.
Dan Tehan, who had been engaged to umpire the game, failed to put in his appearance and Referee Bowser Chest had to go it alone. He did a highly creditable job of officiating in spite of the frequent booing to which he was subjected by the spectators.