Saturday, January 26, 2019

Quick recap: Kansas falls to Kentucky in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Kentucky's Reid Travis (22) shoots under pressure from Kansas' Dedric Lawson (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.

Kentucky's Reid Travis (22) shoots under pressure from Kansas' Dedric Lawson (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.


The battle of blue blood programs lived up to the billing.

No. 9 Kansas and No. 8 Kentucky traded punches during a gritty, slugfest in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge Saturday afternoon. In the end, though, the Wildcats delivered the decisive blows in the second half to secure a 71-63 victory over the Jayhawks in Rupp Arena.

The win by Kentucky (16-3) snapped a three-game skid against Kansas (16-4) in the series between the two winningest programs in college basketball.

In the loss, Dedric Lawson led the way with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Quentin Grimes scored 13 points, while Lagerald Vick recorded 10 points.

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

• The game turned when: Kentucky went on an 8-0 run midway through the second half.

Despite the Jayhawks throwing a triangle-and-2 defense at the hosts, the Wildcats scored eight unanswered points to turn a tie game into 52-44 lead between the 12:31 mark and the 10:44 mark in the second half.

Over this stretch, Reid Travis hit a layup and Keldon Johnson drilled a 3-pointer. PJ Washington also netted a layup and made a free throw attempt. The run was enough for the Wildcats to take the lead for good.

• Offensive highlight: Before the season even began, KU coach Bill Self lauded Lawson’s passing ability.

That trait hasn’t been on display as much without starting center Udoka Azubuike, who sustained a season-ending injury in January. In the first half, though, Lawson flashed his passing prowess to help spark a significant stretch for the Jayhawks.

From under the basket, Lawson somehow found freshman Ochai Agbaji open on the perimeter. He fired a pass his way, and Agbaji drained the 3-pointer.

None by Shane Jackson

• Defensive highlight: It is no secret that Kansas sophomore Marcus Garrett is the team’s best defensive player.

Most of the time, Garrett’s defensive presence is felt with his ability on the ball. He understands what opponents are trying to do against him, due to his attention to detail of the scouting report. Garrett can also get in the passing lanes against nearly any opponent.

But Garrett’s best defensive play against UK came off his own mistake. After his turnover, Garrett saved an easy basket by Kentucky with a block at the 7:10 mark in the first half, swatting a transition layup attempt.

•Up next: Kansas travels to Texas at 6 p.m. Tuesday.


Bryce Landon 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm not brokenhearted by this loss, because I figured we were due to lose to Kentucky after winning three in a row, and because it wasn't a conference game. What bothers me about the loss is that we once again blew a big lead and were never really in the game in the second half. LaGerald Vick didn't do much to help us; by the time he started hitting threes, it was way too late. And Quentin Grimes continues to do us more harm than good. Also, our 1-4 record in true away games doesn't bode well going forward this season.

Clarence Haynes 3 years, 10 months ago

I don’t understand why height challenged KU had players like Lightfoot and K.J. Lawson sitting on the bench. KU was outrebounded 50-36! Lightfoot and K.J. have experience and not playing them didn’t seem to be a good idea.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 10 months ago

Because we were statistically worse with DMac on the floor than when he wasn't. It's pretty simple really. You put him in, do worse, and that's the end of that experiment unless you prioritize "getting him minutes" over trying to win the game.

Until DMac calms down, stops being a poor defender, and isn't a liability offensively (both when he touches the ball and because he clogs the lane for our most potent scorer) then his minutes will be limited unless we're blowing someone out (and this team doesn't do that).

Same basic things can be said for Lightfoot, plus you can add that he's really not all that big and KJ is a better rebounder than him if that's all you're worried about. The ONLY thing Lightfoot could be considered above average at is being a help side shot blocker. He's too small to be an effective defender on his own man, is very limited offensively, etc. Just remember that Self said Lightfoot would have redshirted this year if Silvio was eligible. That should tell you all you need to know about expectations for him this year.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 10 months ago

Maybe McCormack should have been more time early in the season but predicting another season-ending injury for Dok was a tough break for all. I remember how Silvio looked last year in January and then how well he played in March.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 10 months ago

I also wonder why Lightfoot didn’t play. Is he hurt?

In what was actually a meaningless non-conference game, why did McCormack only play 8 minutes? Why not shoot the moon with him in a game like this by giving him extended minutes? Going against the Kentucky bigs in a real game would have to be a valuable experience. He still had four fouls to give.

Allin Herring 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow Bryce you told us that Grimes did us more harm than good but do not mention that the real Garrett is BACK and well with his 1-9 and 4 points with team leading 3 turnovers and 0- 2 from three while Grimes was 5-9 for 13 points 3-5 from three with one turnover. Now I am not a Grimes fan as I think he is way over rated but he did have a much better game than Garrett. Garrett should never be allowed to shoot a jump shot of any distance. The game showed we are not currently a top 10 team and we will be challenged all year against big rebounding teams as Lawson is just one guy with little back up.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 10 months ago

If only Garrett did anything to help this team other than score...

Hopefully some day he'll be an elite defender, learn how to steal the ball, get deflections, etc.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 10 months ago

For what it’s worth, B12 won the challenge 6-4. Add that to the games not played in the actual challenge and the Big 12 went 12-6 against the SEC this year. 9 out of the 10 games in the challenge went to the home team. If they want it to be a true challenge they should find a neutral site(s) to host these games.

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