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Kentucky defeats Kansas, 71-63

  • 5 p.m., Jan. 26, 2019
  • Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY

Saturday, January 26, 2019

No. 9 Kansas drops 71-63 decision at No. 8 Kentucky during SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Kentucky's Reid Travis (22) drives on Kansas' Dedric Lawson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Kentucky won 71-63. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Kentucky's Reid Travis (22) drives on Kansas' Dedric Lawson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Kentucky won 71-63. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

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Lexington, Ky. — Kansas junior Dedric Lawson recorded his NCAA-leading 14th double-double of the season, with a 20-point, 15-rebound effort at Rupp Arena on Saturday night.

But 8th-ranked Kentucky countered with three players capable of putting up Lawson-type numbers, overwhelming offensively challenged Kansas, 71-63 in ESPN College GameDay’s showcase game of the day.

Despite a slow start and a first-half controlled by No. 9 Kansas, Kentucky forwards P.J. Washington (20 points, 13 rebounds), Reid Travis (18 and 12) and Keldon Johnson (15 and 10) just kept coming and did not stop until the Jayhawks’ 3-game winning streak over the Wildcats was a thing of the past.

“Obviously, their bigs played very well,” said KU coach Bill Self, not forgetting to bring up reserve forward Nick Richards. “Nick didn’t play a lot, but he blocks five shots and totally impacts the game. But Reid and P.J. were the dominant players, and it was two against one in there a lot. We’re playing 6-foot-4 at the other (forward) spot. We actually did a pretty good job the first half, I thought, of neutralizing them to an extent. But, yeah, I think we just wore our guy out.”

It took Lawson just 20 minutes to snag his 14th double-double in 20 games. and his 11 points and 11 rebounds in the first half were enough to give Kansas a 3-point lead at halftime.

Neither team — including Lawson — shot that well in the first half and KU sophomore Marcus Garrett said he felt Kansas should have been up by more than 3 points at the half.

Instead, the close contest allowed Kentucky to maintain its poise and the Wildcats erased the KU lead 74 seconds into the second half.

For the next six or seven minutes, the two teams went back and forth on the scoreboard, with the Jayhawks drawing even each time Kentucky took a small lead. But after two free throws from freshman guard Ochai Agbaji tied the game at 44, the Wildcats (16-3 overall, 5-1 SEC) unleashed an 8-0 run and Kansas never again closed to gap to fewer than 3 points.

As Self noted, Lawson wore down in the second half, with the Wildcats throwing big, fresh body after big, fresh body at him in the paint, where UK dominated 38-20.

Until a meaningless 3-pointer in the final minute fell through the net, Lawson was held to just 6 points and four rebounds for 19 minutes of the second half.

“It’s definitely tough playing against two bigs like that,” Lawson said of Travis and Washington. “We play a small-ball lineup and I had to guard P.J. and Travis and sometimes Nick and it’s just something you have to step up to the plate and you can’t make any excuses.

While Lawson felt no need to rationalize KU’s inability to slow down the Kentucky front court, his teammates felt the need to apologize for not giving him more help.

“He was great,” Garrett said of Lawson after the loss. “I felt like he rebounded the ball against almost all of them.”

Added freshman guard Quentin Grimes, who hit 3 of 5 from 3-point range for 13 points in 29 minutes: “From Ochai to me to Marcus, we definitely have to get in there and start banging more with the big guys and get some rebounds and take some of the load off of him so he doesn’t have to exert as much energy out there on the court. We’re definitely going to need him for 35, maybe 40, minutes a game. So we definitely have to take some pressure off him.”

Even Kentucky coach John Calipari, who routinely sticks around to autograph basketballs for a few hundred UK fans while doing his postgame radio show on the Rupp Arena court, had nothing but good things to say about Lawson’s performance.

“How good was he,” Calipari noted. “We thought we did a pretty good job on him and he got 20 and 15. He’s really good.”

So, too, were the Wildcats, who outrebounded Kansas 49-36 for the game and 23-11 in the decisive second half. Kentucky also hit 17 of 23 free throws while KU got to the line just 11 times all night.

“Something you can’t teach is length and athleticism,” Lawson said after the loss. “And those guys are athletic and they went to the glass pretty hard.”

Lawson thought Kansas (16-4 overall, 5-2 Big 12) did, as well. But with Garrett and Grimes playing most of the minutes as the team’s second biggest player — 6-10 freshman David McCormack played eight minutes and grabbed three rebounds — it often looked like the Jayhawks were playing on a regulation goal while the Wildcats were playing on one of those 7-foot, plastic hoops children put in their bedrooms.

Despite the outcome, both Lawson and Self said they were pleased with the way Kansas battled.

“Our guys competed.” Lawson said. “(Self) said he wasn’t discouraged with us, just the bonehead plays at the end. And that’s something you’ve got to learn from. Simple as that. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but, at the end of the day, it’s back to the drawing board and get ready for Texas (on Tuesday in Austin).”

All week, that was one of the main talking points for the Jayhawks heading into Saturday’s blue-blood showdown against the only program in college basketball that boasts more wins than the Jayhawks.

Kentucky now leads KU in all-time wins, 2,279-2,264. And while winning a fourth in a row over Calipari and the Wildcats would have delivered some serious bragging rights, the game itself was more of a bonus than anything, an opportunity to do something big with very little on the line.

That was the mindset the Jayhawks carried with them into the Kentucky cold on Saturday.

“We wanted to win,” Lawson stated. “It’s not the end of the world, though.”

Added Self: “We can’t fret about this. We came here to win; don’t get me wrong. But it’s not like the end of the Earth. We can still accomplish what our team goals are. Losing today doesn’t help with that, but it doesn’t destroy it by any stretch.”

Comments

Stuart Corder 5 months ago

I didn’t get to see the game, but the stat line says KU made 5 more threes than UK, but made 2 less baskets on the night. What sticks out is that on the free throw line KU went 8 - 11 compared to UK’s 17 - 23.

Also, neither Charlie Moore nor Mitch Lightfoot saw any playing time? That seems odd to me. Sick? Doghouse?

Mike Tackett 5 months ago

Neither can play D and to this point in the season show no O.

Marius Rowlanski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Lightfoot plays defense. In case you haven't noticed, he is usually matched up against someone heavier and taller. It's his energy that gets in into the game.

Brian Wilson 5 months ago

Maybe Bill Self needs an outside consultant to give an evaluation. it might also do some good to have all of his staff, assistants, players, everyone even the ball boy give an anonymous upwards evaluation, suggestions, comments, even if they aren't worth a damn.

Point is the program is drowning. KU has recruited players putting KU in poor position in many different ways, player character & family situation evaluation, skills and shooting ability - not athleticism, and an evaluation on how we adjusted throughout the season in games.

It then should be taken with a grain of salt, but Bill Self needs to give some thought about whether his current methods are hurting the program or if his coaching is falling behind the times, or what kinds of improvements can be made to eliminate these situations. Going to UK without an inside game and sporadic 3 point shooting is a not! KU has been suffering through these issues the past several years and it's obvious it needs some attention.

RJ King 5 months ago

And maybe hindsight is 20-20.

Maybe your post is a not!

Brian Mellor 5 months ago

"Program is drowning"

We were in the Final Four 9 months ago. We have broken the record for continuous conference seasonal championships.

KU fans are such whiners it's absurd.

Barry Weiss 5 months ago

step away from the ledge Brian. We have won 14 conference titles in a row, final four last year, tied for first this year. I'd say Coach Self's program is doing just fine. Give Dok and Silvio back and we are in the top 5 easy.

Brian Wilson 5 months ago

Maybe. And yes hindsight is 20 20. KU has had the most incredible run. Last year we did go to a final four and got pummeled by great shooting. Bill Self is a great coach and has adjusted. But let's face it. The number of players having NCAA issues and injury issues, lack of Bigs, and defensive struggles has been a pattern of late. Not to mention this year's shooting. Seems like a good time to evaluate thats all. You all act like I think we are on the ledge. And I don't. But I do think it's possible we could be approaching a ledge and we should adjust before we do.

Tom Jones 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The program is drowning! Bill Self's methods are hurting the program!

Man, it's been a rough work day. Thanks for the comic relief.

Bee Bee 5 months ago

Not having a second BIG is killing K U. Play Silvio and tell the NCAA to go F themselves.

Edward Daub 5 months ago

KU cannot afford that risk. The NCAA is waiting for the Spring Formal to make a decision (NCAA definition for immediate). Save Silvio!

Luke Kading 5 months ago

Lightfoot and Moore didn't play because they are not that good.

I wonder if at some point Bill Self will look back, if he hasn't already, and regret going small ball after Dok got hurt instead of playing McCormack and let him take his lumps early in hopes he's ready by Feb and March. Small ball worked two years ago because of good shooters and Josh Jackson. Last year it worked because of having 4 dead eye shooters almost all the time. This year's team has neither of those. This game showed the danger of going that route. Just not enough fire power on the perimeter unfortunately

Martin Rosenblum 5 months ago

Vick seemed to have been left out of a lot of plays that normally would have been designed with him ending up with the ball. According to the box score, he had only one assist. He went 2-5 on threes and 4-9 total fgs. Garrett wasn't being particularly productive, so why shouldn't they have put the ball in Vick's hands more? Plus, KJ Lawson would have been the closest thing to a talented "big" that we could have paired up in the post to add some size> He only played 3 minutes. Some strange decisions went on tonight.

Shannon Gustafson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Vick was being defended very well by Herro all night. He touched the ball a lot more than 9 times but just couldn't get open (and forced a few of the shots he did take). It was clearly UK's plan to double Dedric and face guard Vick to limit his shots.

Priest Fontaine 5 months ago

All us Jayhawks watching in NYC agree, we love Marcus Garrett. What we don’t understand is him shooting 3 pointers, even when wide open. It’s basically a turnover everytime he shoots so why keep shooting? Never thought I’d say this, but please stop shooting, no matter how open you are. That is, until you figure out how to f-ing shoot the basketball. Take it to the basket for a layup, or drive and dish. But please, no more threes. It’s just not in the cards for you... at least for this year.

Steve Zimmerman 4 months, 4 weeks ago

If he's left open, why not? How do you know he hasn't practiced his 3pt shooting? He needs to shoot in the game to gain more confidence. Just like his dribble drive - he's improved a lot. Give him time.

Marius Rowlanski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Garrett is not the reason for our poor play. In fact, his presence has done nothing but help KU.

And I live in NYC as well.

Jim Keen 5 months ago

I was unable to watch the game. But looking at the box score this morning, from purely the game stats it looks very close, except for a large disparity in number of free throws attempted (23 vs 11) which made a difference of 9 points scored. For those who watched, I'm wondering if it looked like there was some sort of home court advantage with the refs, as is sometimes claimed by opponents at Allen Field House?

Bryce Landon 5 months ago

No, we sucked at rebounding, and they got a boatload of second chance points as a result.

Brad Avery 5 months ago

What KU really sucks at is blocking out. The perimeter players especially seem to be unaware that it is important to keep the player they are guarding off the backboards, especially considering the fact that KU does not have a physical front line in the first place. Lawson is not a great defensive rebounder one-on-one, but when he has to contend with three opposing players, the situation becomes hopeless.

Bryce Landon 5 months ago

Lick our wounds and get ready for a rematch with Texas. If ever there was a good time to win a true road game, this Tuesday night would be that night!

Chris DeWeese 5 months ago

This came as no surprise. Time to move on.

Mike Hart 5 months ago

Some have commented on the the free throw stats jumping out at them. What should have jumped out... was the way UK dominated the offensive glass. It was UK's ability to keep offensive possessions alive with 17 offensive rebounds that kept UK in the game in the first half. Our inside game is 90% Dedric Lawson. The only other "inside" game we have is guard penetration, typically by Dotson. As we were getting killed on the glass, i was wondering where Mitch Lightfoot was. Dedric Lawson played 39 minutes. McCormack played 8 mins.. and Mitch Lightfoot was a DNP again. With size like UK, you can't just rely on Dedric Lawson. He was forced into some woeful shots in the 2nd half... just forcing them up, and as the focal point of the offense, he got UK's attention all night with double teams... and Lawson showed some fatigue. If KU rebounds with UK... offensive and defensive glass... KU wins this game. Can't do that with one big man on the court. Lawson needs a help... even if 3 minutes at a time for a breather. KU had 9 offensive rebounds as a team... just 9. UK big Reid Travis had 7 by himself.

Mike Tackett 5 months ago

Not a good sign when you are OK with a L. Coach and players seem OK with that. I see hard times ahead and no Big 12 title.

Brian Babcock 5 months ago

Acceptance is a good thing.

Added Self: “We can’t fret about this. We came here to win; don’t get me wrong. But it’s not like the end of the Earth. We can still accomplish what our team goals are. Losing today doesn’t help with that, but it doesn’t destroy it by any stretch.”

Would you prefer they go home and kick the dog? They played hard. It's over. Now onto the next game and defense of league title.

(Although I do enjoy frequent laughs reading all of the chicken little comments every now and again when we lose a game).

RJ King 5 months ago

“It wasn’t the result we wanted, but, at the end of the day, it’s back to the drawing board and get ready for Texas (on Tuesday in Austin).”

Mike, point me to the quote where players and coaches said they are "OK with a loss." What do you want them to do? Throw themselves in front of a bus?

Aaron Paisley 5 months ago

It's not that the coaches and players are okay with a loss, it's more that this game is meaningless in the grand scheme of things in relation to KU achieving its goals for the season.

This game has no bearing on KU's ability to win the B12 this year, it'll have minimal impact on seeding in the tournament, and it doesn't change the ceiling of this team.

This game didn't reveal anything new about this team we didn't already know. This team is bad at rebounding, subpar shooting, and subpar defense. All 3 weaknesses were on display in Lexington.

Martin Rosenblum 5 months ago

Combined with the Arizona State loss earlier in the season, I think this could have some bearing on the seeding for the tournament along with any more B12 losses. But, the good news is that we would not be set up to be embarrassed in the first round! We all knew that the streak would end in the B12, but we shouldn't hang it all on Dok or Silvio. Shooting weak floaters and calling them 3 pointers and telegraphing passes doesn't exactly put us in the driver's seat for success. The meaning that this game did have was as a scouting report for our fellow B12 teams as we face them in the next few weeks.

Shannon Gustafson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

We out rebound most of the teams this year and are the 10th best defense according to KenPom. We are NOT a bad defensive team. Our offense is stagnant and that's the biggest problem. You can blame that on poor shooting (that's certainly the case most nights) or you can blame it on losing Dok (he's one of the most efficient offensive players in the country and we're averaging 10 pts less per game without him). With those 10 points we'd have one loss this year (ASU).

Marius Rowlanski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This is not a meaningless game. Is not as bad as almost being swept by Iowa State or giving West Virginia there only win in conference. Losing to Texas didn't help either.

It is meaningless all the way through to the NCAA so there is certainly enough time to right the ship and get no lower than a three seed

Mallory Briggans 5 months ago

Aaron you are correct on all three points .This was a winnable game again Coach Self doesn't get a pass . You play small ball when they are killing us on the boards. KJ is long McCormack is a big body not quite a fluid polished player but he was active when on the floor got 8 minutes Charlie was a DNP Mitch didn't play….are you telling me that they cant bring anything to the floor Wasn't the talk about this team our deep bench . Dok is gone SDS wont play this season

Last year Coach Self did more with less last year

This year Coach Self is doing less with more .

Shannon Gustafson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes, before the season our post depth was a strength. Now we're without our two best centers and suddenly we're not deep in the post. It's pretty simple to understand that.

He's not correct on all 3 points either. We're the 10th best defense in the country according to KenPom and I think 11th on Torvik (the two most accurate sites year to year).

We have also out rebounded the vast majority of teams this year so how are we poor at rebounding? We may not be elite at it but we're not a poor rebounding team most nights either.

Our offense is not very good without Dok, that's the biggest issue.

Aaron Paisley 5 months ago

Moore really doesn't add anything at this point other than a warm body. He doesn't play a lick of defense, he's out of control on offense so he doesn't add anything positive at this point.

Mitch's role has pretty much disappeared now as well. In a 2 big line up, Mitch had a role as a back up 4. In a 4 guard line up, Mitch doesn't have a role because he's not good enough as a lone big. On the occasions KU goes with 2 bigs, it's Dave at the 5 and Dedric at the 4 and Dedric is better than Mitch.

Martin Rosenblum 5 months ago

Not making excuses at all. Simply an observation. I noticed Mitch's mouth is still very swollen from the hit and stiches he has from a couple of games ago. He probably isn't truly ready for contact the way it's coming in the post these days. Self might realize his inability to go hard and won't put him in only to cause him more serious injuries.

Brad Watson 5 months ago

This team is not improving.....while other teams are....we have good talent...BUT......we can not play with elite teams....we have won some games against good teams...early....but now those teams have gotten better and we are the same...losing our inside presence is huge...and unless Grimes can get consistently hot and we dial up big time D...I think unless we get a lucky draw in the DANCE....we might have trouble getting out of the first weekend....as far as our conference...I still feel we have enough to make it to 15...though I think Tuesday night will probably be a loss...this team lacks chemistry ....Vick being the main reason in my opinion.

Mallory Briggans 5 months ago

Hey Aaron other than Garrett who does play decent defense on this team. But Garretts good defense is nullified by bad offense not saying Moore is the answer but part of coaching is getting the most out of your players ,putting them in a better place to succeed . Tennesee is not a team full McDonalds all americans neither is Villanova Virginia or Gonzaga ...nor have they have history of those types of players That goes to Duke and Kentucky Winning the Big 12 every year doesn't mean much to would be recruits if it did we wouldn't have to wait year after year to maybe get a top recruit . Next years KU top recruit is about 105 in the Rivals 150 that's also troubling , big men recruits talk about how great Kansas develops big men but yet they commit elsewhere .We have been paper national champions quite a few times with 1 real natty and another appearance with Self. This years team on paper had Natty potential but they lack direction and it starts with the coach .And as far as Mitch he has never played his natural position ...Why couldn't Self have played him along side Lawson or McCormack anything to keep Kentucky of the boards ...should have been an option but wasn't done.

Bottom line is you have to win with who you have on the court 16 - 4 still aint bad

Shannon Gustafson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Nova & Virginia & Gonzaga are also typically not nearly as young as we are this year. That makes a huge difference (just look at Mason & Graham & Withey & TRob & Aldrich as examples of players being WAY better than their ranking as Jr's and Sr's.

Anyone who thinks Moore is the answer doesn't have a very high basketball IQ. He is battling with Grimes for the distinction of being our worst defender AND the worst offensive player on the team (both of them are worse than Garrett on offense according to advanced stats and it's not even that close).

This team was a title favorite BEFORE they lost their two best centers. Apparently you're unaware that losing the best players at ANY position is a big problem. We were 10-0 and beat 5 of the best teams in the country (including the #1 team currently) with Dok (and without Silvio, so even then we weren't at 100%). We're obviously not nearly as good without Dok.

The Adidas trial has hurt recruiting this year for us just like the Nike stuff hurt Arizona last year. Arizona has the #1 class this year after it being horrid last year so we can only hope we see a similar recovery (at least back to normal) with next year's recruiting class. With that said, the recruiting season isn't yet over so there is a chance we could get Hurt (who we're favored for) and his teammate who are both top 30 guys and would make our class pretty good.

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