Tuesday, November 14, 2017

No. 4 Jayhawks top No. 5 Wildcats in blue blood battle

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls his teammates together in a huddle during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at United Center.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls his teammates together in a huddle during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at United Center.


College basketball’s two winningest programs squared off Tuesday night at Chicago’s United Center, and though the game footage won’t be headed to the hall of fame, blue bloods Kansas and Kentucky provided some early season drama in the nightcap of the Champions Classic.

Coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks prevailed, 65-61, against John Calipari’s Wildcats in a battle of top-five teams that wasn’t decided until the final minute.

Down two points to KU with 33 seconds left in the second half, UK couldn’t convert on a Kevin Knox floater out of a timeout, and Kansas sophomore Malik Newman chased down a long defensive rebound.

Newman (12 points), then drained a pair of free throws to pad KU’s lead to four with 17 seconds remaining. Senior leader Devonte’ Graham made two more at the line with 0:07 on the clock to seal it.

Though the No. 4 Jayhawks (2-0) basically used a six-man rotation with freshman Billy Preston once again held out of the lineup, Graham (11 points, five assists, 3-for-14 from the floor) and Svi Mykhailiuk (17 points), and sophomore big man Udoka Azubuike (13 points, eight rebounds) gave KU enough experience and size to hang with the Wildcats.

KU junior Lagerald Vick added nine points, six rebounds and five assists to the cause, while sophomore Newman (4-for-14 shooting) turned it on late, and Marcus Garrett (three points, three rebounds) never really got going offensively.

Freshman Knox led the No. 5 Wildcats (2-1) with 20 points.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• What went down in the first half: Kansas shot just 13-for-38 (34 percent) in the first 20 minutes, but took a 34-33 lead into halftime on the strength of its rebounding. The Jayhawks controlled the glass, 24-13, at that juncture and did most of that damage with offensive rebounding. Fifteen gathers of their own misses led to 15 second-chance points before intermission.

Kentucky, which didn’t lead at any point during the first 17-plus minutes, broke ahead briefly, 33-32, because Kansas missed three jumpers and two free throws during a scoreless stretch lasting more than three minutes. A Newman lay-in with 2:00 left was the only shot KU made in the last five minutes before the break, but proved the only score by either team prior to intermission.

Although Kansas raced out to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes, Kentucky began to recover before long. The Jayhawks contributed to their foe’s surge with three empty possessions in a row, beginning around the 10-minute mark, each ending with a turnover. In the meantime, a jumper from UK sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones and back-to-back Kevin Knox 3-pointers made it just a three-point deficit for Kentucky.

Within two minutes, the long, athletic UK rotation — which had six blocks and six steals in the first half — tied the game at 28, after a Hamidou Diallo steal and jam, and a long two-point jumper from Wenyen Gabriel.

A Kansas drought featuring seven consecutive missed field goals and two turnovers allowed UK to cut the lead to five by the 11:54 mark, before Graham drove in and drew a foul to come away with an old-fashioned three-point play.

KU got out to a 13-7 lead before the first media timeout with the help of four offensive rebounds and five second-chance points — courtesy a Mykhailiuk floater and 3-pointer.

The Jayhawks’ advantage eked out to 11 in the following minutes, before the young Wildcats found their bearing, with freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring consecutive buckets.

• The game turned when: Crunch time came along.

Vick drove inside and missed in the midst of a one-point game with just more than two minutes to play, but gathered his own rebound. A quick pass out to Mykhailiuk and a swing to Newman allowed the transfer from Mississippi State to drain a crucial 3-pointer on the wing against the UK program that recruited him out of high school, giving Kansas a 61-57 advantage.

The Jayhawks then defended well enough for UK to miss four of its final five shot attempts.

• Offensive highlight: At a point when KU was shooting just 35-percent from the floor on the night and leading by only two points, the idea of consecutive easy jams seemed more pipe dream than reality.

But one confident Vick baseball pass ahead to Mykhailiuk helped change that and gave KU some much-needed juice.

The senior from Ukraine leaked out and ran past three UK defenders in scramble mode as Vick picked up a steal. Vick didn’t hesitate when he saw Mykhailiuk running deep and put about a 50-foot outlet on the money, allowing Mykhailiuk to throw down a one-handed slam.

Less than a minute later, Graham found Azubuike for one of his standard two-handed dunks and KU led 51-45.

• Defensive highlight: Kentucky at times looked more impressive in terms of memorable stops, what with its scholarship players having an average wingspan of 6 feet, 10 inches.

UK’s 10 swats and seven swipes, compared to KU’s two blocks and 12 steals qualified as more appealing visually.

The best sequence for Kansas on the defensive end of the floor came very early on, with Marcus Garrett ripping the ball from Gilgeous-Alexander’s hands, leading to a Graham transition lay-in.

The next trip down the floor Azubuike blocked a shot, setting up a Newman 3-pointer.

• Key stat: Offensive rebounds. The first half would’ve been ugly for KU if Self’s group hadn’t hustled to extend possessions with second-chance looks.

With Azubuike snagging all four of his first-half boards on offense, and veteran guards Vick (two) and Graham (two) chipping in, as well, Kansas was able to score 44 percent of its points (15) on second chances.

KU finished the big early-season win with a 20-15 edge in second-chance scoring.

Who knows what kind of funk the Jayhawks might have slumped into had they not come up with that boost on the offensive glass.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will be back at Allen Fieldhouse Friday for a non-conference affair outside of the national spotlight, versus South Dakota State.

By the Numbers: Kansas 65, Kentucky 61

By the Numbers: Kansas 65, Kentucky 61

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Kentucky


Bryce Landon 3 years, 5 months ago

Honestly, I'm shaking my head in joyous disbelief. How in the hell did Kansas pull this off? We were without Billy Preston (again), only seven players took the floor in white jerseys, we squandered an 11-point lead, we had so many turnovers, we all too often went into one-on-one mode instead of playing like a team (i.e., when Malik Newman tried to take the ball coast-to-coast through heavy traffic for a layup and got his shot swatted away - twice), we didn't rebound worth a damn in the second half, our shot selection was God-awful all night - and we still won???? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy, but I'm still in a state of disbelief.

David Kemp 3 years, 5 months ago

Hey it’s good to forget about football for a change and actually compete at something!

Gerry Butler 3 years, 5 months ago

Agee for sure. - we get out shot from the field hitting only 35.8 % - - 28.6 from the 3 - -& 56.3 from the stripe - -have 10 shots blocked and still find a way to win. - I don't think we are going to have many nights like tonight. - We seems like have one like this a year - last year /Oregon - maybe we got it out of the way early this year. Not really thought that many turnovers - -only 11 for the game, Man do we need De-Sousa - have Billy get his head on Straight - get us some depth - really good win all things considered

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

Of little tough to believe Bryce. Going into the game without Bragg, umm Billy Preston, my pregame confidence certainly waned but in a game where we couldn't shoot for crappola, Newman trying to be Russell Westbrook and the upperclassman not playing even close to their best (exception of Vick), we pull off an improbable victory by out scrapping the other team on the offensive boards and not ever folding when the lead was changing on every possession.

An outstanding but ugly or butt ugly victory. Fantastic!

Barry Weiss 3 years, 5 months ago

Nice to win when we shot the ball so poorly and some pretty bad shot selection at times. Its early. Still worried about this Preston mess. Announcers made a few comments as if this suspension may go on for a while. Not what we need from one of our top recruits. The whole financing of his car story sounds pretty fishy. Need the other player(s) we get in the second half of the season. Can't expect a six or seven man rotation to hold up to the grind of the regular season and some foul nights. Dok is showing he is NOT a foul machine. That dude is legit.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

Nicely done Barry. Your posts are always well stated and written without overt bias.

Jaston Archie 3 years, 5 months ago

This is going to be a long and frustrating season that will not end in a national championship. Devontae is not a great player, he shows flashes but I think the player we saw against Oregon and the one tonight is closer to who he really is. Bill Self had an unbelievably horrible recruiting class and it's showing, this is the worst team I've seen in a while

Gerry Butler 3 years, 5 months ago

ARE YOU SERIOS? -- REALLY? lmao thanks I needed a rally good laugh this morning. - We play that poorly with SIX players and we still win - -that's not going to happen very often. - -You dogging on Devonte? - how about this why don't you go tell opposing Coaches and players how bad Devonte is - -see what they say - -how about you take time and sit up a little one on one with Devonte and tell him what a terrible player he is. - -Give me a break that has to be the most absurb comment ever. - Holy crap man -- That's why he is on the John Wooden watch list huh - -because of who he really is? - -Nuff siad

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

it's too late Chris. Who gives up on their team after two regular season wins plus 7 exhibition games. We did just beat a legitimate top 10 team without half of our frontcourt.

Casey Miller 3 years, 5 months ago

Jaston that seems pretty harsh. I can’t imagine what you’d say if we had lost! This was an ugly win, but how can you judge it’s going to be a frustrating season already? We beat Kentucky so what would you say they have ahead of their season? Azubuike is going to get better offensively with each game, and he will pose nightmare matchups for every team we face - an asset we desperately could have used last year. Graham isn’t Frank Mason, and he was too busy trying to be tonight. Graham needs to learn his strengths as our new leader, but he’s way better than he played tonight. You’d be a fool to think otherwise.

Teddy Fields 3 years, 5 months ago

Jaston, are you sure your aren't a Kentucky fan? That comment was simple Jack esque. We played hard, just didn't shoot the ball well. To win when only shooting 35% is somewhat of a silver-lining, but I'll take it. Especially without Billy.... Can't wait to see what happens there.

Jaston Archie 3 years, 5 months ago

Casey That was one of the worst Kentucky teams I've seen in a while too, they're headed back to the NIT. KU will win a lot of games and the Big 12 but I don't see any way this team can win a national title, too many missing pieces. Duke looks like a heavyweight, big and athletic and super talented across the board

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

And yet the game was still in contention with only a few minutes left on the play clock.

Let's just cancel this season and give Duke another championship.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 5 months ago

Just glad KU’s draw this year was a young and no so ultra talented UK team and not Duke or MSU last night.

Tevin Brown 3 years, 5 months ago

Graham will be okay i got high hopes for him but i wanted to see how we would look if we shot bad n hey we won so idc if it was a sloppy game as long as we figure out how to win as a team

Alan Dickey 3 years, 5 months ago

We have ten fairly easy contests before December 29 to work on everyone's games. Then we add Cunliffe and possibly De Sousa. Hopefully, we get Preston before then. If we add at least two of those three guys, we'll have added much-needed depth. We didn't score well against UK, but they were really big and fairly good defensively, and it was just our second real game. With good teams like KU, the February/March games usually look at lot more impressive than the November games--going back decades. Not a problem, and we have a good five-week incubation period going forward.

Bob Bailey 3 years, 5 months ago

Terrible game! Came on after 100 and lasted past midnight. And shot selections was abominable. They passed the ball around and settled for a 3 ptr 2 - 3 ft beyond the 3 pt line. With better shot selection we may have won by 20 pts. Certainly not n exciting game. Should have gone to bed.

Adam Engelbrecht 3 years, 5 months ago

I know, I HATE games that come on after 100. They are the WORST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bryce Landon 3 years, 5 months ago

Do you live in the Eastern time zone? It came on just before 9 pm CT and ended around 11:15.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 5 months ago

Can always count on a few "boo-birds" to try to ruin what was one gutsy display by a limited roster.

I just hope that the Preston deal doesn't become another Josh Selby or Cliff Alexander. We need both him and Silvio to shore up our inside game, despite the fact that Udoka had a very good game.

Dave Miller 3 years, 5 months ago

It was an ugly game - for both teams. But I have to say that Dok's 13 points and Svi's 17 points were "quiet" points for the most part. Watching the game I had to frequently glance at the score to be sure it was what it was. It felt like we were playing from behind most of the night. But that's how it sometimes goes. I'm just glad Kentucky was having a bad night also. And it feels sooooo good to pick up a game on them!!

Len Shaffer 3 years, 5 months ago

Not a very impressive display by either team, but any time we can beat the Evil Empire it's a great thing, no matter how ugly the game looked ...

Of all the KU players, the one who impressed me the most was Vick; I think he's going to have a MONSTER year. And that 50-foot pass was tremendous.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

Vick reminds me of Josh Jackson minus a few inches. He has a similar athletic body and is capable of playing down low and fighting for rebounds.

And don't anybody show KU's quarterback coach any Vick replays.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

It wasn't that long ago when people were asking, "what does Jerrance Howard bring to the table".

He was the lead recruiter for the following players: Grimes, McCormack, Garrett, Newman, and Jacobs.

If KU would just spring for a higher THC blend of marijuana, there's no ceiling too how 'high' he can go.

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