University of Kansas

Second-ranked Kansas rallies for 79-73 victory at No. 4 Kentucky

Analysis: Kansas 79, Kentucky 73

Kansas beat reporter Jesse Newell recapped the Jayhawks' 79-73 victory over Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Jan. 28, 2017, on Facebook Live.
Up Next
Kansas beat reporter Jesse Newell recapped the Jayhawks' 79-73 victory over Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Jan. 28, 2017, on Facebook Live.

Back in high school, Josh Jackson became friends with Kentucky’s four freshman starters on the AAU and all-star game circuits.

“They are great competitors. They really want to win. I knew neither side was going to give up no matter how much either team would be up or down. It was going to be a fight to the end,” said Jackson, Kansas’ freshman phenom from Detroit, after scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while playing 39 minutes in the second-ranked Jayhawks’ 79-73 SEC/Big 12 Challenge victory over the No. 4 Wildcats on Saturday in front of 24,418 fans in Rupp Arena.

Jackson’s back-to-back threes to open the second half helped KU (19-2) immediately erase a five-point halftime deficit on a night the Jayhawks trailed by as many as 12 points against a Kentucky team (17-4) that starts frosh sensations Malik Monk (18 points, 4 rebounds), De’Aaron Fox (10 points, 2 assists, 5 turnovers), Edrice “Bam” Adebayo (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Wenyen Gabriel (no points, two rebounds, 14 minutes).

Read Next

Jackson’s threes “took the lid off” the basket, according to KU coach Bill Self, with his Jayhawks making 5 of 11 three-pointers during a final half in which KU outscored the Wildcats 52-41. KU was 0 of 8 on threes in the first half.

“We were pretty good after that,” Self said of KU’s performance after Jackson’s pair of threes.

This one was decided by an 11-0 KU run that turned a 59-58 deficit into a 69-59 Jayhawk lead with 4:41 left

Jackson, who had 10 rebounds, opened that surge with an inside tip. It was followed by a Frank Mason three, then buckets by Landen Lucas, Devonté Graham, and Lucas again.

Frank Mason and Josh Jackson talk after the Jayhawks' 79-73 victory over Kentucky on Jan. 28, 2017. Both players were listed as witnesses in a police report that surfaced this week alleging the rape of a 16-year-old girl at their residence hall in

Mason had 21 points, Lucas scored 13 points on 6 of 6 shooting and added five rebounds, and Graham had 12 points.

“It’s very satisfying to win,” Self said. “I told our team this, prepping for the game, ‘This is an important game, but not as important as our game Wednesday (against Baylor at 8 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse), not as important as our game Tuesday (an 85-69 loss at West Virginia).

“If you ever go to an AAU Tournament, it’s kind of like the showcase game. Showcase games (in AAU tournaments) … win or lose, no big deal. It doesn’t affect the bracket. It affects fans of both schools, tradition is on the line.”

He made it clear conference victories are more important than the SEC/Big 12 Challenge contests, even ones that match the two teams — Kentucky and UK — with the most wins in college hoops history. KU also beat Kentucky in last year’s challenge at Allen Fieldhouse.

Read Next

“We showed extreme upper-class leadership tonight,” Self said. “I thought we played pretty tough. I thought Frank and Devonté were great, and Josh plays much older than his years. Svi (Mykhailiuk, who had eight points) and Landen I thought played with pretty good poise down the stretch, really good.”

Then there’s freshman Jackson, who had 10 points, four rebounds and two steals in the first half as KU trailed 32-27 at the break.

“He’s made eight (threes) his last three games. That’s an area he’s getting better,” Self said. “If he makes shots, you’ve got to guard him.

“That (three-point shooting) is something he’s worked hard on,” Self added after Jackson hit 2 of 5 threes on a night KU hit 50 percent of its shots, and went 5 of 19 on threes. “He got his hands on loose balls, rebounded, got a great offensive putback (to give KU 60-59 lead at 7:11; KU did not trail again).

Read Next

“He is a complete basketball player. He is one of the few guys out there that can do a lot of everything.”

Jackson said a key was Self using not only a man-to-man defense, but a 2-3 zone and a triangle-and-two.

“Coming into the game we knew there’d be a point in time we’d be down and trying to come back,” Jackson said. “We knew they were going to go on a run. We had to keep believing in each other, never stop fighting. We were down 12 at one time (actually three junctures at 23-11, 25-13 and 29-17 in the first half). Switching defenses I think threw them off a bit. I think it helped a lot.”

Self explained: “Being able to shadow Malik and eliminate him scoring off screens … there will not be any educational tapes on that zone tonight. I do think we shaded shooters and did a good job with it. We would not have won the game unless we switched up.”

Read Next

KU won on a night the Jayhawks made 10 of 18 free throws to Kentucky’s 13 of 22. KU was outrebounded 35-34.

The Jayhawks, who were without the suspended Carlton Bragg, received a boost from seldom-used big man Dwight Coleby, who had three points and a rebound in 10 minutes. Freshman Mitch Lightfoot played 4 minutes.

“Dwight and Mitch gave us enough bodies to kind of lay on Bam,” Self said of Adebayo, who had eight boards and four turnovers in 37 minutes.

Good frame of mind

Self said before the game that the Jayhawks entered the KU-Kentucky contest in a positive frame of mind despite Tuesday’s loss at West Virginia and reports of alleged crimes in McCarthy Hall, a dorm that houses men’s basketball players and other male students, that surfaced earlier in the week.

“We’re fine. We didn’t play well at West Virginia. Guys were obviously down about that, then we had some distractions obviously that our players had to deal with,” Self said in his pregame interview on the Jayhawk Radio network. “It goes with the territory whenever something like that occurs or an alleged allegation occurs.

“Our guys had to be big boys and understand that’s part of it and certainly it’s serious and needs to be handled in a serious way. That’s the way as a group we will totally respect the process and going about it in the proper way. On the flip side the train doesn’t stop. It keeps rolling, so guys have to stay focused. They are very excited. They seem to be together and very excited about today.”

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after team's 79-73 victory over Kentucky on Jan. 28, 2017.

Three KU coaches in house

Self, on the fact that he, Larry Brown and Ted Owens, who have accounted for 886 of KU’s 2,204 victories, all were in Rupp Arena for the game:

“Of course coach Brown has been with us (the last few days in Lawrence watching practice). We saw coach Owens earlier. Both are great guys,” Self said before the game.

Teams battle in recruiting

Rivals.com took a look at some of the “most memorable” recruiting battles between KU’s Bill Self and Kentucky’s John Calipari.

KU landed Andrew Wiggins, ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2013; Xavier Henry, ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2009; and Cheick Diallo, No. 5 in the Class of 2015. Kentucky signed Julius Randle, No. 2 in the Class of 2013, and Terrence Jones, No. 13 in the Class of 2010.

Not included on the list were the recruiting battles for current Wildcats Fox and Monk.

“We recruited both of them hard,” Self said.

KU and Kentucky are both recruiting Trae Young, a 6-2 senior from Norman (Okla.) North, who is ranked No. 14 in the Class of 2017, and Romeo Langford, a 6-4 junior from New Albany (Ind.) High, ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2018.

Preston to play in Brand game

KU signee Billy Preston, a 6-10 senior from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., who is ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, has been selected to play in the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic, set for April 14 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

KU prospect Young is also in the game.

Calipari speaks

UK coach John Calipari was asked what his squads consecutive losses to KU and Tennessee have in common.

“They stink. How about that? One was on the road and one is home. We don’t normally lose here, but Kansas, you got to give them credit, they came in here and all the plays they had to make in the second half, even when we made a run to make it close again, they were effort plays, too,” Calipari said. “They were tip-ins, they were they were grabs, they were second and third shots. They were a drive to the basket and a physical tough and-one layup. That’s what they did to beat us. And I come back to, our defensive playing and our toughness. That’s what they did to us. A young team, you got to learn to fight. That’s what we’re going to have to learn to do.”

Of UK’s Derek Willis, who hit five threes and scored 18 points, Calipari said: “He missed a couple rebounds. But, I left him in because I felt we needed his shooting. And you know, you know he’s going to give a little bit up defensively and rebounding, but you’re hoping he can make enough shots to make this thing close. I thought he did a good job on the offensive end. It’s just you and a guy and either he gets it or you get it and you got to fight. And that’s something that’s got to continue to work on.”

No. 2 KANSAS 79

No. 4 KENTUCKY 73

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Lucas

27

6-6

1-1

5

0

5

13

Graham

36

4-11

2-2

7

1

2

12

Jackson

39

9-17

0-2

10

3

1

20

Mason

37

9-18

2-5

3

4

0

21

Mykhailiuk

28

2-6

4-6

2

1

2

8

Vick

17

1-4

0-0

3

0

1

2

Coleby

10

1-1

1-2

1

0

4

3

Lightfoot

4

0-1

0-0

1

0

0

0

Totals

200

32-64

10-18

32

9

15

79

Percentages: FG .500, FT .556. Three-Point Goals: 5-19, .263 (Jackson 2-5, Graham 2-7, Mason 1-4, Vick 0-1, Mykhailiuk 0-2). Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 12 (0 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Lightfoot, Lucas). Turnovers: 12 (Graham 5, Mason 4, Jackson 2, Lightfoot). Steals: 9 (Jackson 2, Mason 2, Vick 2, Coleby, Graham, Lucas). Technical Fouls: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kentucky

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Adebayo

37

3-7

4-10

8

3

4

10

Gabriel

14

0-3

0-0

2

0

1

0

Briscoe

26

4-9

3-4

8

6

3

12

Fox

38

5-12

0-0

2

2

3

10

Monk

39

6-13

4-5

4

2

2

18

Willis

25

6-7

1-2

6

0

1

18

Hawkins

17

2-4

1-1

4

1

1

5

Humphries

4

0-0

0-0

0

0

2

0

Totals

200

26-55

13-22

34

14

17

73

Percentages: FG .473, FT .591. Three-Point Goals: 8-20, .400 (Willis 5-6, Monk 2-6, Briscoe 1-2, Hawkins 0-1, Fox 0-2, Gabriel 0-3). Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 17 (0 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Willis 2, Adebayo, Humphries). Turnovers: 17 (Fox 5, Adebayo 4, Briscoe 3, Monk 2, Gabriel, Humphries, Willis). Steals: 5 (Adebayo 2, Fox 2, Gabriel). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: Kentucky 32-27. Attendance: 24,418.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments