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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Notebook: Bill Self on UK’s Rupp Arena: ‘It’s no Allen Fieldhouse’

Kansas coach Bill Self yells to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Kentucky won 71-63. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Kansas coach Bill Self yells to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Kentucky won 71-63. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

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Lexington, Ky. — With the amount of hours dedicated to the hype and buildup for Saturday’s blue-blood battle soaring into the triple digits, Saturday’s 71-63 victory by No. 8 Kentucky over 9th-ranked Kansas certainly delivered the type of atmosphere one might expect of the two winningest programs in college basketball history.

“It was wonderful,” said KU junior Dedric Lawson, who has talked often about how playing in games of this magnitude was a huge part of the reason he transferred to Kansas from Memphis.

“Yeah. It was great,” five-star freshman Quentin Grimes said.

Just how great? That depends on who you talk to. And, at one point, one of the loudest moments delivered by the Rupp Arena crowd of 24,387 screaming fans came after back-to-back free throw misses by Grimes ensured free breakfast biscuits at Chick-Fil-A for everyone in attendance.

By game’s end, there were a few moments louder than that one, of course. Even KU coach Bill Self, who has coached 258 games in KU’s famed Allen Fieldhouse, had glowing reviews — and one playful jab — for Rupp Arena after Saturday’s loss.

“It’s good,” Self said. “It’s no Allen Fieldhouse, but it’s good. It’s a terrific atmosphere. I said before the game, this is why you go to Kentucky or go to Kansas. It’s terrific. (But) I didn’t think that had anything to do with our play tonight.”

Neither did Grimes.

“I didn’t think it was a problem until they started hitting 3s late and that kind of got the crowd into the game,” Grimes said. “But I think we maintained our defensive composure and kept the crowd out of the game until the last 5 minutes.”

Garrett cools off

Kansas sophomore Marcus Garrett entered Saturday’s game at Kentucky on some kind of offensive heater.

And the Wildcats’ length and defense, not the single-degree Kentucky temperatures, proved to be all that was needed to cool off Garrett.

After emerging as a major weapon for the Kansas offense during his past four outings, Garrett struggled through 32 foul-plagued minutes in a 71-63 loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena and finished just 1 of 9 from the floor, 0 of 2 from 3-point range, for 4 points, two of which came at the free-throw line.

“He didn’t have his best game,” KU coach Bill Self said of Garrett after the loss. “But, still, though; we’ve got to live with that. If we’re going to play Marcus, we’ve got to live with him trying to score over length from 3 or 4 feet and he just didn’t do that tonight.”

It was not for lack of trying. Time and time again, particularly in the early going, Garrett attacked the rim off the bounce and tried to get the ball up on the glass. And time and time again the Wildcats’ altered or flat-out blocked Garrett’s attempts.

The Kentucky defense recorded eight blocks in Saturday’s victory and three of them came on Garrett shot attempts.

“He got to the basket two or three times early, trying to score over length, and they blocked his shot,” Self said.

Added Garrett when asked about the challenge of testing the UK big men: “(It’s) just different with that length. (Almost) that whole team is long, and it was just a different type team than what we’ve played.”

Challenge extended

In the hours leading up to the sixth edition of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, officials from both conferences announced that the showdown had been extended for another six years.

Despite KU’s loss, the Big 12 promptly went out and celebrated by running its record to 4-1-1 in the first six years of the one-day showcase, with a 6-4 victory in head-to-head matchups this year.

Texas Tech, Iowa State, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all picked up victories over SEC programs on Saturday, with Kansas, Kansas State, Texas and West Virginia falling.

Self reiterated after the loss that he was not a fan of the timing of the game coming in the middle of conference play. But acknowledged that there were good things about it and that both teams were in the same boat.

“Sometimes, Kentucky has to do things that you may not want to do, but it’s good for the whole,” Self began. “And I think that’s where we are, too. Even though I wish it could happen in December, you can’t do that. There’s no time slots, with bowl games and things like that. So, for one day, it was an infomercial on ESPN for both leagues, so that is positive.”

KU is 4-2 all-time in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, including 2-1 against Kentucky.

This and that...

Kentucky now leads the all-time series with Kansas, 23-9... Bill Self is now 6-5 all-time against Kentucky, 6-4 while at Kansas... UK coach John Calipari is now 4-6 all-time versus Kansas... The loss snapped KU’s 13-game regular-season winning streak against top 10 teams, which began in January of 2016... The Jayhawks are 2-1 against top 10 teams this season, with wins over Tennessee and Michigan State and Saturday’s loss to the Wildcats... The loss also was Self’s 100th at KU, running his record at Kansas to 463-100. His all-time coaching record stands at 670-205.

Comments

Andy Godwin 8 months, 3 weeks ago

As pontificated before, Dedric needs to post 30 points/15 rebounds for KU to have a chance to win these types of games against bigger and more talented front courts. Mitch can’t even find the floor and David is not ready to score in double figures when subbing for Dedric. Dedric is the only reliable offense threat going into each game, even when he is the opposing team’s defensive focus. Who will pick up the other scoring game in and game out is a crap shoot? Udoka’s loss is magnified when playing against bigger, more athletic front courts. Not sure KU would fare well against Michigan State, Tennessee, etc. if those games were played now. De Sousa helped save KU’s season last year when he was finally cleared in the second semester. One can only hope he will somehow get cleared before much longer, which I originally predicted to be zero after the Adidas trial. Now I am hoping for NCAA compassion.

David Robinett 8 months, 3 weeks ago

NCAA Compassion is a contradiction in terms

Mike Bennett 8 months, 3 weeks ago

De Sousa is not going to get cleared. Clearing him in no way puts more money in the NCAA's pocketbook, the coaches pocketbook or administrators pocketbook. The NCAA won't even make a decision. They will let it sit until the season is over, claim their is a process and protocols to follow, wait for De Sousa to declare himself pro and call the question moot. They never do anything on behalf of the player unless the player's parent is dying and they want to transfer.

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