KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Patrick Sparks continues to ignite the Kentucky offense.
Sparks had 19 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 17 as the sixth-ranked Wildcats posted an 84-62 triumph over Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee.
The transfer from Western Kentucky, who sat out all of last season, has been a key component for Tubby Smith's squad in 2004-05. Sparks leads the team in assists at just under five per game and began play Tuesday fifth in the conference in the category.
The Kentucky native also leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio and is a prolific outside shooter. In this one, he reached double figures in scoring for the 12th time in 17 games, making 4-of-10 3-point attempts.
"I thought Patrick Sparks got us off to a good start with his shooting," Smith said. "Everyone I put into the game stepped up. Each player did something positive."
The offense helped Kentucky (15-2, 6-0 SEC East) improve to 6-0 in league play for the third time in eight seasons under Smith. The 15-2 start is the best for the club since the 1997-98 squad opened 19-2 en route to the National Championship.
"Kentucky is a very good team," Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson said. "Kentucky has so many weapons on offense."
Kentucky starting forward Chuck Hayes suffered a broken nose in the first half and did not return. He had two points and five rebounds in 11 minutes before leaving.
"Chuck Hayes took a hard blow and we will have more information (Wednesday)," Smith said. "If anybody can come back and play with a broken nose, it is Chuck. ... I have never seen Chuck hurt. He is an iron man."
Freshman Chris Watson, who was Kentucky's "Mr. Basketball" in 2004, led the Volunteers with 17 points. Major Wingate and C.J. Watson added 14 points for Tennessee (10-9, 3-3 East), which has dropped three of its last four.
Scooter McFadgon, the Volunteers' leading scorer at 15.5 points per game, had just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.
"It is important that we get Scooter McFadgon going again," Peterson said. "For one thing, he needs to spend more time practicing his shots. He just is not playing with very much confidence. We have to get him back."
Kentucky has played Tennessee more than any other opponent, leading the all-time series, 135-62. The Wildcats have won eight of the last nine meetings, including six in a row.
Tennessee was within 29-26 following Wingate's layup with 6:14 left in the opening half, but Sheray Thomas had a jumper 23 seconds later to ignite a 10-0 burst in which five different Wildcats scored.
Kentucky led 44-33 at the half despite Tennessee shooting 50 percent (13-of-26) from the field. The Wildcats did have a 22-13 edge on the boards through 20 minutes.
A jumper by Watson 6:18 into the second half got the Volunteers within 49-43, but Ramel Bradley and Sparks had jumpers 23 seconds apart. Tennessee never got closer than nine the rest of the way and trailed by 20 following a 3-pointer by Azubuike with 5:43 to go.