Tall Order: Kansas Can’t Stop Top-Ranked Kentucky
INDIANAPOLIS — A multi-talented, top-ranked Kentucky squad made plays that No. 5 Kansas simply could not as the Wildcats handled the Jayhawks with ease at the State Farm Champions Classic Tuesday night inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 72-40.
In a meeting of the two winningest programs in college basketball history, Kansas (1-1) was humbly out-matched by a Kentucky (3-0) team with the largest comprised roster of McDonald’s All-Americans since the inception of the game. In all, 10 of Kentucky’s players earned All-America status prior to joining the Kentucky bench – and it showed. Twelve different Wildcats scored, while holding the Jayhawks to their lowest point total in the Bill Self era.
The building turned from neutral site to road game in a hurry when the Wildcats took to the court for warmups. Lexington, Kentucky, and Indianapolis are only three hours apart, making for a solid Wildcat contingency. What’s more, the trend of Kentucky’s “two-platoon” system held true as Kentucky coach John Calipari subbed his team five players at a time on six different occasions.
Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr. led the Jayhawks with nine points, while freshman forward Cliff Alexander tallied eight points and a team-high eight rebounds. Fellow big men Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas pulled down seven and five boards, respectively.
Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr. led the
Jayhawks with nine points.On the opposing bench, sophomore center Dakari Johnson (11) and sophomore guard Andrew Harrison (10) were the only Wildcats in double digits, while freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. In reality, Kentucky didn’t vastly out-rebound the Jayhawks (44/37) or shoot lights-out at 43 percent (25-for-58) on the night. The 11-for-56 (19.6 percent) shooting effort, the lowest since the record began in 1988-89, was something from which Kansas could not recover.
KU’s starting lineup mirrored the season opener by all but one player with freshman guard Kelly Oubre, Jr. cracking the starting five. Two fouls in two minutes would quickly send him to the bench. Fellow McDonald’s All-American, Alexander, was hit with two whistles in less than a minute to send him to the bench, as well.
With every preview of the matchup highlighting the size discrepancy – Kentucky has four players on its roster as tall or taller than KU’s tallest player – Kansas tried to put constant pressure on the ball. Five minutes in, KU had three steals. It didn’t take long, however, for the Wildcats to show off their first plan of attack. Rebounds.
Consecutive offensive rebounds in the same possession finally resulted in a three-pointer for UK guard Andrew Harrison. Two more offensive boards turned into a dunk for Cauley-Stein. Midway through the first half, Kentucky had doubled-up KU on the glass and used a 12-0 run to dart out to a 24-9 lead. Head coach Bill Self used a timeout, and Kansas matched UK’s scoring at six points apiece through the next three minutes thanks to a Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk three-pointer, but the gap was already a wide one. After Selden sank his first trey of the year, Kentucky flexed its second plan of attack. Blocks.
Just over two minutes remained in the opening frame when Selden hit sophomore Frank Mason III for an outlet pass. KU’s point guard took off down the floor for his shot at a fast-break layup. Instead, he was met with a Kentucky’s eighth block of the first half. In one half, UK recorded as many blocks as KU gave up in just two games a year ago. By night’s end, Kentucky tallied as many blocks (11) as KU made shots (11).
Enter Alexander and Oubre. Foul trouble held the pair to less than seven minutes of action apiece in the first half, but in the final 90 seconds the duo combined for a run that sliced an 18-point deficit in half, 37-28. Ending the first half on an 11-3 run, KU took a narrowed 38-28 deficit to the lockerroom.
What looked like a major momentum swing for Kansas was stunted when the Jayhawks missed their first six shots and first four free throws to open the second half. It took more than five minutes for KU to register its first point, a free throw by Alexander, and six minutes for its first field goal, also from Alexander. When UK guard Aaron Harrison found the bottom of the net on a long-range jumper, Kansas again found itself down big, 48-31.
Back-to-back buckets for Selden helped Kansas stay afloat momentarily, but a 25 percent shooting mark halfway through the period saw the Kentucky lead surpass the 20-point mark. The Wildcats never looked back, sprinting away with the 72-40 win.
Kansas will return home on Monday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. to host Rider in the opening round of the Orlando Classic. The Rider game will be televised on Jayhawk IMG TV/ESPN3/ESPN Full Court. KU will then head to Orlando, Florida, for bracket play in the Orlando Classic. KU will face Rhode Island at 1:30 p.m. (Central) on Thanksgiving Day and either Tennessee or Santa Clara the following day, Nov. 28, at 11 a.m. The event concludes on Sunday, Nov. 30.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (2/5), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (2/37), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (1/1), Jr. F Perry Ellis (2/39), Jr. F Jamari Traylor, (2/3)
SERIES INFO: Kentucky leads 22-6
- Moved Kansas to a 1-1 record to start the season for the fifth time in the Bill Self era.
- Expanded Kentucky’s lead for all-time wins in NCAA Division I history to 15 games. Kansas now has 2,127 wins in its history, while Kentucky has 2,143.
- Added to Kentucky’s lead on the series, which stands at 22-6 in favor of the Wildcats, including three-straight wins.
- Made Kansas’ record against ranked teams 53-29 in the Self era.
- Made KU 7-16 all-time against the Associated Press No. 1 ranked teams, including 2-2 under Self.
- Changed Self’s record to 3-4 against Kentucky, 326-70 at Kansas and 533-175 overall.
- Made KU’s all-time record 2,127-823.
- Eight of the players named to the Top 50 Wooden Award Watch List took to the court on Tuesday, four from each team. Junior F Perry Ellis, sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr. and freshman F Cliff Alexander from Kansas. Junior C Willie Cauley-Stein, sophomore G Andrew Harrison, sophomore G Aaron Harrison and freshman C Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky. Kansas and Kentucky were the only two schools with four individuals named to the 2014 50-man list.
- Thanks to the State Farm Champions Classic, this is the second time in the last four years that the Jayhawks have taken on Kentucky in the second game of the season. Kentucky was ranked No. 2 in their last Champions Classic meeting (11/15/11).
- Kansas’ 40 points was the second-lowest in the series against Kentucky since losing, 39-68, on December 16, 1950.
- The 40-point total also marked KU’s lowest output since a 41-35 loss at Missouri on Jan. 20, 1982.
- For the first time in series history, which dates back to 1950, Kansas failed to reach 60 points in back-to-back meetings with Kentucky.
- For the game, Kansas shot just 19.6 percent (11-for-56) from the field, marking its lowest percentage since the record began being tracked in 1988-89 season (previous low: 28.2 percent vs. Temple, 12/22/95).
- The Jayhawks dished out just four assists in the loss, also its lowest mark since the records began in 1988-89 (previous low: 5 vs. Oklahoma State, 2/20/13). KU’s zero assists in the second half was also a first since the records began (previous low: 1 vs. Texas, 1/21/12).
- KU’s 109 points through its first two games are the lowest in the Bill Self era.
- The “two platoon” system on Kentucky’s bench wasn’t a myth as Kentucky coach John Calipari subbed his team five players at a time on six different occasions. Consequently, UK’s bench outscored KU’s, 34-12.
- Kentucky recorded eight blocks against Kansas in the first half. In 2013-14, only two teams tallied that many blocks in a game against Kansas (8 by San Diego State; 12 by Texas). The last team to swat eight shots in a half against Kansas? Kentucky. Also in the Champions Classic (8, 2nd half, 11/15/11). Consequently, the Wildcats hold the record for opponent blocked shots in a game against KU (13) in the same meeting. Note those records began in the 1988-89 season.
- Kansas topped Kentucky on the offensive board count (20-15), but the Wildcats made more use of theirs with 19 second-chance points compared to KU’s nine.
- With 3:06 remaining in the first half, Kentucky broke out to a 35-17 lead, its largest of the half. Kansas caught fire to end the final three minutes of the half on an 11-3 run to take a shortened 38-28 deficit to halftime.
- The 11-3 run that KU ended the first half with went quiet in the second half. KU missed its first six shots and was held scoreless for more than five minutes to open half number two.
- For the remainder of the second half, KU made only three field goals, which tied its lowest back total in a half (3 at TCU, 2/6/13).
- Tuesday marked the first time KU has been defeated by more than 30 points since the 2006 season (53-86 at Oklahoma State, 2/7/00).
- Freshman G Kelli Oubre, Jr. earned the first start of his career. After not even putting up a shot in his Jayhawk debut vs. UC Santa Barbara (11/14), Oubre was KU’s leading scorer at halftime with six points.
- Fouls bothered KU’s McDonald’s All-Americans early. Oubre was called for two fouls in less than two minutes, while freshman F Cliff Alexander had two against him less than a minute after checking in. The duo went on to power KU’s 11-3 run that the team ended the first half with.
- Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr. hit his first three-pointer of the season with 2:48 remaining in the first half, before leading the team with nine points on a team-high four field goals.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander grabbed a career-high eight rebounds, while sophomore F Landen Lucas tied his career-high with five boards.
- Junior F Jamari Traylor completed the game with seven rebounds – his 19th career game with five or more rebounds. He also tied his career-best with three blocks.