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KU-Kentucky set to renew unique rivalry Tuesday in Chicago

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Kansas center Jeff Withey and Kentucky forward Anthony Davis go up for the opening tipoff of the national championship on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans.

Kansas center Jeff Withey and Kentucky forward Anthony Davis go up for the opening tipoff of the national championship on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans. by Nick Krug

Because they aren’t in the same conference, they do not play each other every year, although some quality scheduling during recent years has made the matchup more common.

The two teams enter Tuesday’s clash at the Champions Classic in Chicago as the No. 1 and No. 2 winningest college basketball programs of all time, separated by just 20 victories in more than 6,000 contests.

And because both are media darlings and supported by proud and rabid fan bases, any time these two get together, the scene before, during and after their showdown is as much more Hollywood as it is hardwood.

“These are the type of games that players live to play for and I'm sure Kentucky players do, as well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And to be part of the Champions Classic, which is such a high-profile event, certainly is very, very cool. But the reality of it is, I'm not sure that this event, whether you win or you don't win, is going to dictate what kind of season you have.”

Kentucky vs. Kansas. The mere sound of it rings so sweet in the ears of college basketball fans everywhere. And Tuesday night, at approximately 8:30 p.m. inside United Center, the two bluebloods will hook it up for the 31st time in their storied histories.

Kentucky leads the all-time series, 22-8, and holds a 21-game advantage (2,239-2,218) over Kansas in all-time victories.

Self said Sunday afternoon that freshman forward Billy Preston, who missed KU's season opener to serve a one-game suspension, was on pace to play against Kentucky on Tuesday night. And Self added that he had not yet decided what to do about his starting lineup, which, last Friday, featured freshman Marcus Garrett starting in place of expected starter Malik Newman.

"We'll see after a couple practices," Self said.

While many of the names and faces are fresh and new chapters in this unique rivalry are waiting to be written, here’s a look back at five of the most memorable Kansas-Kentucky showdowns of all-time.

KU players gather on the court during KU's 150-95 blowout of Rick Pitino's Kentucky Wildcats in December, 1989. From left are Pekka Markkanen, Freeman West, Kevin Prichard and Jeff Gueldner. Seven KU players scored in double figures.

KU players gather on the court during KU's 150-95 blowout of Rick Pitino's Kentucky Wildcats in December, 1989. From left are Pekka Markkanen, Freeman West, Kevin Prichard and Jeff Gueldner. Seven KU players scored in double figures.

1 – Dec. 9, 1989 – No. 2 KU shreds Kentucky 150-95 at Allen Fieldhouse

Way back in 1989, during then-KU coach Roy Williams' second season in charge of the Jayhawks, Kentucky and head coach Rick Pitino came to town for an early December showdown and left on the wrong end of one of the biggest beatings in KU history. Despite Pitino's insistence on pressing the entire game, the Jayhawks shredded the UK defense for easy bucket after easy bucket from start to finish. The point total (150), first-half total (80), number of field goals made (52) and total KU assists (36) are still Kansas records. And the Jayhawks, led by 31 points from sharp-shooter Terry Brown, enjoyed a day in which six players scored at least 16 points.

Kansas forward Kevin Young takes a charge from Kentucky center Anthony Davis during the first half of the national championship on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans.

Kansas forward Kevin Young takes a charge from Kentucky center Anthony Davis during the first half of the national championship on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans. by Nick Krug

2 – April 2, 2012 – KU and Kentucky meet for the national championship in New Orleans

Five months after topping Kansas 75-65 in the Champions Classic in New York City, these two teams met again on the final Monday of the season at the Superdome, with a national title on the line. UK's lineup of future NBA draft picks and stars, led by Anthony Davis, overwhelmed the Jayhawks and built an 18-point first-half lead that stayed as high as 15 in the second half. However, behind Thomas Robinson's 18 points, 17 rebounds and huge heart, KU trimmed the Kentucky lead to 62-57 with 1:37 to play before falling, 67-59.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) gets in for a bucket against Kentucky during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) gets in for a bucket against Kentucky during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Jan. 30, 2016 – No. 4 Kansas knocks off No. 20 Kentucky in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse

This one should have been dubbed Wayne Selden Jr. Night. In the first Allen Fieldhouse meeting between these two storied programs since 2006, Selden exploded for 33 points, on 12-of-20 shooting, in a game in which he played 44 of 45 minutes to lead the Jayhawks to a thrilling, 90-84, overtime victory. That was the night the Jayhawks rolled the newly acquired original rules of basketball onto the court at halftime and also the night that KU overcame a 46-40 halftime deficit to survive a scare from Tyler Ulis and the Wildcats.

Kansas players Devonte Graham, left, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and Perry Ellis watch during the final seconds of the Jayhawks' 72-40 loss to Kentucky during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kansas players Devonte Graham, left, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and Perry Ellis watch during the final seconds of the Jayhawks' 72-40 loss to Kentucky during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

4 – Nov. 18, 2014 – No. 1 Kentucky drills No. 5 Kansas in Indianapolis in the Champions Classic

KU's second matchup with Kentucky in the early-season showcase also was its most forgettable. The worst loss of the Bill Self era, which prompted the KU coach to crack a joke about how he wished there was vodka in the cups at the postgame podium instead of water, featured a young Kansas squad scoring just 12 points in the second half and shooting 19.6 percent from the floor for the game. Joked Self on Sunday: “After several years of seeing my psychiatrist I've kind of gotten past this, so I'm not going to talk about the past much. But that was a beat-down right from the beginning.”

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) comes in for a breakaway dunk during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) comes in for a breakaway dunk during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. by Nick Krug

5 – Jan. 28, 2017 – Second-ranked Kansas travels to Lexington and beats No. 4 Kentucky on its home floor

Back together for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, this time at Rupp Arena, the Jayhawks and Wildcats again delivered a matchup marked by incredible hype, an amazing atmosphere and elite talent. KU freshman Josh Jackson and future national player of the year Frank Mason III out-dueled Kentucky's talented freshman trio of D'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo, 79-73, coming from 10 down in the first half to emerge victorious. But the thin Kansas lineup also got major contributions from senior Landen Lucas and juniors Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte' Graham, as KU's starting five played 168 of a possible 200 minutes to grab the win.

KU-Kentucky All-Time Series: (UK leads 22-8)

Dec. 16, 1950 - Kentucky 68, Kansas 39 in Lexington
Dec. 14, 1959 - Kentucky 77, Kansas 72 in Lawrence
Dec. 6, 1969 - Kentucky 115, Kansas 85 in Lexington
Dec. 4, 1971 - Kentucky 79, Kansas 69 in Lawrence
Dec. 23, 1972 - Kentucky 77, Kansas 71 in Lexington
Dec. 3, 1973 - Kansas 71, Kentucky 63 in Lawrence
Dec. 23, 1974 - Kentucky 100, Kansas 63 in Louisville
Dec. 13, 1975 - Kentucky 54, Kansas 48 in Lawrence
Dec. 11, 1976 - Kentucky 90, Kansas 63 in Lexington
Dec. 10, 1977 - Kentucky 73, Kansas 66 in Lawrence
Dec. 9, 1978 - Kentucky 67, Kansas 66 in Lexington
Dec. 12, 1979 - Kentucky 57, Kansas 56 in Lawrence
Dec. 13, 1980 - Kentucky 87, Kansas 73 in Lexington
Dec. 12, 1981 - Kentucky 77, Kansas 74 (OT) in Lawrence
Dec. 29, 1982 - Kentucky 83, Kansas 62 in Louisville
Dec. 10, 1983 - Kentucky 72, Kansas 50 in Lawrence
Dec. 31, 1984 - Kentucky 92, Kansas 89 in Louisville
Dec. 14, 1985 - Kansas 83, Kentucky 66 in Lawrence
Dec. 9, 1989 - Kansas 150, Kentucky 95 in Lawrence
Dec. 8, 1990 - Kentucky 88, Kansas 71 in Lexington
Dec. 1, 1998 - Kentucky 63, Kansas 45 in Chicago (Great Eight Tournament)
March 14, 1999 - Kentucky 92, Kansas 88 (OT) in New Orleans (NCAA Tournament)
Jan. 9, 2005 - Kansas 65, Kentucky 59 in Lexington
Jan. 7, 2006 - Kansas 73, Kentucky 46 in Lawrence
March 18, 2007 - Kansas 88, Kentucky 76 in Chicago (NCAA Tournament)
Nov. 15, 2011 - Kentucky 75, Kansas 65 in New York (Champions Classic)
April 2, 2012 - Kentucky 67, Kansas 59 in New Orleans (NCAA title game)
Nov. 18, 2014 - Kentucky 72, Kansas 40 in Indianapolis (Champions Classic)
Jan. 30, 2016 - Kansas 90, Kentucky 84 (OT) in Lawrence (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)
Jan. 28, 2017 - Kansas 79, Kentucky 73 in Lexington (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)

Comments

Titus Canby 1 week, 1 day ago

My most memorable game was unfortunately one we lost. I think it was '78 in Lexington, also known as the "Ken Koenigs timeout game." We were up by something like 5 with 30 seconds to go and lost the game. I can't remember ever being so angry at a basketball game.

B****rds beat us every single year I was in college. We had a home and home with Kentucky back then, and we always scheduled some patsy the previous game. While we were drilling said patsy, the chant of "Go KU Beat Kentucky" would start about half way through the second half, and always irritated the heck out of Coach Owens.

Least favorite Kentucky player of all time... Kyle Macy.

Robert Brown 1 week ago

That game always stick out to me and to this day, I never believe any lead is safe. We were actually up by six points in Lexington with 30 seconds left. There was no three point shot then. After UK tied the game with a few seconds left, KU called a TO they didn't have and got a technical foul which was converted by Kyle Macy. We were ranked 2nd in the country going into the game, but underachieved most of the season.

Jim Chastain 1 week ago

I'm pretty sure that game was at Allen Fieldhouse because I think I was there. An embarrassing loss -- particularly when Mr. Perfect (I share your distaste for Kyle Macy) hit the winning free throws (of course).

Dave Miller 1 week, 1 day ago

It should be billed as "The Battle of the Bluest of Blue Blood Programs"

Bryce Landon 1 week, 1 day ago

I had the good fortune of being at the Kansas-Kentucky game in Allen Fieldhouse for the 2006 matchup. I still have in my wardrobe the free t-shirts that were in the AFH seats that said "Sixth man" with a KU number 6 on it - in the old circus font that KU used in those days. And it was fun watching the Jayhawks drill the Wildcats that day 73-46.

Bryce Landon 1 week, 1 day ago

As for the five games listed here by Matt, here are my thoughts on them:

1) What I wouldn't give to have been old enough to see the 150-point game live. That 1989 game was the basketball equivalent of Kansas football pounding Nebraska 76-39 in 2007.

2) That game broke my heart. We almost pulled off an incredible comeback, and might have if Anthony Davis hadn't forced Elijah Johnson into a traveling violation while attempting a three-pointer that would have cut the deficit to 2.

3) I watched that game from start to finish at Jock's Nitch in Topeka. Truly a thrilling game. The employees were into it as well; we were all cheering for Kansas. The overtime was sensational. Wayne Selden was unconscious in that game.

4) A program like Kansas has no business losing by 32 to anyone, not even to a team that was as good as Kentucky was that year. I will always remember that Kansas team as a soft team that went through the motions, was lacking in both intensity and passion, dogged it on defense, and quit when things got tough - case in point being the Wichita State loss.

5) The only thing better than beating Kentucky is beating Kentucky in Corrupt Arena - especially after facing a double-digit deficit early in the first half. When that game was over, I called a friend of mine I met in grad school who was a big UK fan, and trolled him with a voicemail of the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant.

Scott Proch 1 week ago

Old guy here who DID see the '89 game live. It was incredible and the pace forced by UK was so fast +25 didn't feel safe. Then with 5 minutes left you looked up and saw we were up by 40! Heard afterwards the pace was so fast they turned off Max's mike during the second half. He was doing commentary on 3 trips ago.

Jim Stauffer 1 week ago

Attended the 150-95 game with friends from Kentucky. Had to suppress my ecstatic joy and commiserate with them during the game, but truly enjoyed it later. Related to that, I visited my daughter in Kentucky over a year ago and went into a convenience store wearing Jayhawk sweats. A guy comes up to me and says you could be in danger wearing those around here. We laughed as I reminded him they held a large advantage in the series. He turned and said, "We still owe you for beating us 150-95. That game still sticks in their craw.

Craig Carson 1 week ago

that 32 point loss was something that wont happen again..everything had to align perfectly..UK had a bunch of returning talent and a loaded recruiting class while KU had a very inexperienced team in only its second game of the season..they looked spooked from the very tip..not to mention the fact that UK had played a few overseas games prior to the preseason..they were primed to go

Lawrence McGlinn 1 week, 1 day ago

It will be interesting to see how UK plays on Tuesday. They have been less than impressive so far. Beat Univ of Vermont tonight by 3. UVM missed a pretty good look at the buzzer. Extremely young and allegedly talented, as usual. KU by 10.

Craig Carson 1 week ago

if UK allows KU to shoot the way they did Vermont, this could be an embarrassing loss for UK...for all that talent they have, they dont play as a team..ONLY ways I see them beating KU is if Azibuike gets into early foul trouble or KU has another fluke Oregon elite 8 game where they miss a ton of open 3's...if they shoot like they did on Friday, forget..UK is toast...I now Vermont is no pushover, but a game at home against a team severely outmatched in every position and you need a last second stand to pull out a win???

Kit Duncan 1 week ago

Titus, it was 1977 in Lawrence that Ken called the timeout. I don’t think it cost KU the game, because Koenigs was trapped and was going to turn it over anyway. It just meant KU would lose by a couple more points.

Al Martin 1 week ago

There may be more than one "timeout" game against Kentucky. The crushing one I watched, I think from a marching band end of year banquet (on TV), was December 9, 1978, in Lexington.

https://wildcatbluenation.com/2017/01/27/kentucky-basketball-crazy-comeback-1978-kansas-jayhawks/

Marcus Balzer 1 week ago

Wasn't all that thrilling of a game in comparison to the ones listed but Russel Robinson's block against Patrick 'Bubba' Sparks was a highlight. That and the entire student section cheering or yelling at Ashley Judd.

Gary McCullough 1 week ago

I was at the [Dec. 10, 1983 - Kentucky 72, Kansas 50 in Lawrence] game in paint. I was sitting behind the bench with a couple of students with the same idea. The Journal-World took a picture of us and it appeared on the front page the next day. Needless to say, my graduate advisor "advised" me to put the theatrical paint away and spend more time studying for my first year exams. LOL

Tony Bandle 1 week ago

Game #2 is the toughest. What people forget is that Jeff and Thomas both missed uncontested dunks in that game which would have put the deficit at 1 and Elijah going for the National title game winner as opposed to a desperation three pointer!!

Getting to the National Championship game that season with Conner Teahan as your sixth man, had to be Bill's best coaching job of his career.

Craig Carson 1 week ago

that is why I have faith in Self this season even though our front court consist of really just 2 guys...that team had TROB, Withey and I think Kevin Young as the main back up plus Teahan/ Tharpe as the backups...this team has way better guard play..if Azibuike and Preston can mimic what those 2 did, KU will be in great shape

Dirk Medema 1 week ago

Wasn't the 150 point game also the one where Pitino gave Roy the avian wave?

Rob Stewart 1 week ago

Ah, it looks like we got another win tomorrow night, the trend is 3's. Watch it play. Go Hawks!

John Smith 1 week ago

I missed the 150-95 blowout in ‘89. I wish I could find a broadcast or dvd of that game. Been looking for years.

Craig Carson 1 week ago

the edge may be 22-8 for UK, but to be fair, UK had a huge winning streak against KU during mid 80's...like 11 in a row..aside from that, the series has been pretty even...

Bryce Landon 1 week ago

Guess who was coaching Kansas at the time - Ted Owens. And in those days, he wasn't exactly lighting it up the way his successors have done. Kansas was a very ordinary program during the Owens era.

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