Postgame Report Card: Kentucky 71, Kansas 63
Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 71-63 loss to Kentucky on Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
KU wisely came out playing through big man Dedric Lawson, and even though he got off to a slow start, the junior had a double-double before halftime.
When Lawson wasn’t crafting his way to baskets, though, KU’s offense rarely dissected UK’s defense. The Jayhawks were at their best when getting in the open floor, where Devon Dotson or Quentin Grimes could score easy baskets. But those chances were seldom.
KU’s offense then fell off in the second half, with Lawson unable to put the entire team on his back, and little going the visitors’ way when they had the ball. Kentucky led by as many as 8 points by the midway mark of the second half.
A 1-for-7 shooting stretch in the heart of UK’s run delivered a serious blow to to KU’s chances.
The Jayhawks scored 30 second-half points on 10-for-27 shooting.
UK scored 87% of its points in the paint in the first half, with the Jayhawks having little to no success stopping the Wildcats from getting the ball to the paint.
Kentucky outscored its Big 12 opponent 26-14 in the paint in the first 20 minutes, and the Jayhawks repeatedly fouled Reid Travis (18 points) only to see the graduate transfer from Stanford finish and score through the contact.
And despite all of that, UK hit us 33.3% of its shots in the first half, missed all 8 of its 3-point tries and trailed KU 33-30 at intermission. Hard to complain too much about that if you’re KU.
The Wildcats started getting some 3-pointers to drop in the second half, though, and that’s when the Jayhawks began having more issues defending the entire floor.
UK made 48% of its attempts in the second half (4 for 10 on 3-pointers).
Lawson (20 points, 15 rebounds) did well for himself considering the numerous long-armed defenders UK had inside. Even better for KU, Lawson managed to stay out of foul trouble throughout the first half, meaning Kansas didn’t have to spend much time playing without his services.
However, KU’s best player seemingly wore down in the second half, and was unable to duplicate his first-half success.
A freshman, Dotson (9 points, 4 assists) looked as ready for Rupp Arena and the ESPN spotlight as any of KU’s guards. He played as fast with the ball against the Wildcats as he would against any other foe, and at times took advantage of space to drive or attack in the open court.
When Dotson picked up his third foul just a few minutes into the second half, Bill Self kept his valuable point guard on the floor. The Jayhawks might have been completely buried without him.
Garrett (4 points, 5 rebounds) missed his first six shot attempts of the game before finally scoring on a drive early in the second half. Garrett wasn’t nearly as effective as a scorer versus the lengthy UK defenders as he had been lately.
Grimes (13 points) reminded observers of his potential in flashes at Kentucky. At times, his active hands on defense and energy in the open court proved helpful. And, boy, did KU need his 3-pointers (3 for 5).
Vick (10 points, 6 rebounds), outside of an early drive and lay-in in the first half, spent much of the evening without making much of an impact.
The senior’s first 3-point make of the game came with KU down 10 with less than 1:30 left. Vick made another with just more than 1:00 left to make it 66-60, Kentucky.
Almost always the spark KU needs when subbing in, freshman Ochai Agbaji did his thing at Rupp Arena in the first half, scoring on a corner 3-pointer and a layup within a few minutes of stepping into the spotlight.
Kansas trailed by 2 when Agbaji checked in, but the Jayhawks built a 10-point lead within five minutes of the freshman joining the lineup.
Agbaji finished with 7 points and KU’s subs outscored UK’s 7-0, but the freshman couldn’t ignite anything in the second half.