Kentucky coach John Calipari would love to see more assertiveness from Terrence Jones for the rest of the season. Calipari got that from the sophomore forward during last season's visit from SEC foe Tennessee.
Jones will try to help the top-ranked Wildcats again Tuesday night when they try to earn a 14th consecutive win and current NCAA-best 48th in a row at home by adding to the Volunteers' road woes.
Jones has struggled for consistency at times this season, and missing two games in late December with a dislocated left pinky didn't help. His 12.4 points per game this season are 3.3 fewer than his initial collegiate campaign and his current 6.5 rebounding average is down from his 8.8 as a freshman.
Jones, though, sparked Kentucky to a 74-50 rout at LSU on Saturday with a season-high 27 points, including a run of 13 straight, and nine rebounds. Four days earlier, he was held to five points during a 57-44 victory at Georgia.
"My point to him is ... if this is who you are, then you should be this every game," Calipari said. "That's what we've all been waiting on and he makes us different."
After what Calipari deemed one of his team's "best" games this season, Kentucky (21-1, 7-0) will try to get a similar performance against Tennessee (10-11, 2-4).
The Volunteers upset ranked Florida and Connecticut squads at home earlier this month but are 0-6 on the road. They were routed 65-47 at Vanderbilt last Tuesday but rebounded for a 64-49 win over visiting Auburn on Saturday.
Junior forward Jeronne Maymon had a team-best 15 points and nearly matched a career high with 19 rebounds during the program's 1,500th victory. Leading scorer Trae Golden (13.1 ppg) added 13 points after producing a combined six over his previous two games.
"We didn't play well in Nashville, but I thought we bounced back strong," coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Now going on the road and being ready to play, it's more mental than anything. Our preparation is there. It's just a matter of carrying out assignments, being ready to play and having fun, embracing the atmosphere more than anything."
Martin seemed to have his team prepared for the Wildcats in Knoxville on Jan. 14 and held an eight-point lead early in the second half. Kentucky, though, pulled away over the final seven minutes for a 65-62 win.
A pair of freshmen led the way in that fourth straight win over the Volunteers. Anthony Davis finished with 18 points and four blocks, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 17 points and 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats have won five straight at Rupp Arena in the series and 11 of the past 12 matchups there. Jones' 11 rebounds - five more than any other Kentucky player - helped his team post a decisive 38-28 advantage on the boards during a 73-61 victory Feb. 8. He also scored 10 points and was one of four players in double figures.
In this game, Jones will try to help Kentucky improve to 65-2 all-time at home as the No. 1 team in the AP poll. The Wildcats are 9-1 against Tennessee when owning the top ranking but the previous such matchup was in 1966.
Kentucky has won 18 of 22 overall over the Volunteers and lead the second-longest series in SEC history 147-66.