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Fans across Big Blue Nation had to be worried as UK traveled to #5 Kansas. The question on most fans minds was simple, which UK team would show up for this game. Fans remember the season opening loss to DUKE at the Champions Classic in New York. A loss to a top team to start the season was not enough to worry about for these experienced Cats.
Fast forward to December 11th when UK traveled to Notre Dame and laid an egg falling to the Fighting Irish in a game UK clearly should have won. Kentucky would travel to Las Vegas the following week to take on North Carolina in the CBS Classic. UK would dismantle the TarHeels, 98-69. It would be the first of 4 straight blowout wins for the Wildcats.
Then the other UK team showed up in a trip to #21 LSU where UK would drop a very winnable game 65-60. UK would follow that up with 4 straight wins that included a near perfect win and dismantling of the #22 Tennessee Vols winning 107-79.
Of course Kentucky, as they had done all season, the Cats would fall on the road to #2 Auburn. This after looking like the Wildcats were on a path for a tremendous upset. This is why you play both halves of a game as Kentucky would fall at Auburn.
This set up the road contest at Kansas. Fans hoping the team that looked like a title contender would show up or would it be the team that lost to Duke, Notre Dame, LSU & Auburn.
It didn’t take long for that question to be answered as Kentucky would dominate the Jayhawks all night long. Keion Brooks Jr.’s 27 points led the Cats and super transfer Oscar nearly had an “average” night by his standards, as his 17 points and 14 rebounds were very close to his season averages of 16.3 points and 15.2 rebounds.
Kentucky looked every bit the team that looks to be a title contender. There is still a good portion of the season to go, but if this UK team shows up every night, Kentucky will easily be considered one of the favorites for another r National title.
Notes provided by UK ATHLETICS:
UK MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
KENTUCKY at KANSAS
ALLEN FIELDHOUSE | LAWRENCE, KAN.
JAN. 29, 2022 / ATTENDANCE: 16,300
Final Score: No. 12/13 Kentucky 80, No. 5/5 Kansas 62
Team Records, Series Notes, Etc.
- Kentucky is now 17-4 on the season while Kansas is 17-3.
- The Wildcats lead the series, 24-10.
- Today’s game marked the last of five consecutive games against teams that had a combined record of 64-13 when the stretch began Jan. 15. UK went 4-1 in those five games.
- Next for Kentucky: having completed non-conference play, UK has 10 Southeastern Conference games remaining. The Wildcats play host to Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised on SEC Network.
- Kentucky’s last win over an Associated Press top-five opponent was vs. No. 1 Michigan State on Nov. 5, 2019, as UK won 69-62 in the Champions Classic in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
- Kentucky’s last win over an Associated Press top-five opponent in a true road game was Dec. 27, 2014, when the Wildcats won at No. 4 Louisville, 58-50.
- This was Kentucky’s largest margin of victory (18 points) in school history against a top-five team in a true road game.
- Kentucky is 5-3 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and has won four in a row in this event.
- UK is 2-2 when playing Kansas in the Challenge.
- Kentucky is 9-11 in games visited by the ESPN College GameDay show.
- Kentucky limited Kansas to 62 points. UK is 199-9 (95.7%) under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 63 points or less, including 11-0 this season.
- Kentucky led by as many as 24 points. UK is 302-13 (95.9%) under Calipari when leading by at least 10 points at any time in the contest.
- UK shot 50.8% from the field tonight, 31 of 61. The Wildcats are 10-1 this season when making at least half their shots and 16-0 when having a better field-goal percentage than the opponent.
- Kentucky won the rebounding 41-29 and won second-chance points, 17-6.
- UK is 16-1 this season when outrebounding the opponent, 14 of which have been by double-figure margins.
- Entering the game as the SEC’s leading team in assist/turnover ratio (+1.40), the Wildcats had 19 assists and only nine turnovers tonight. It is the fourth time in the last seven games that UK has had single-digit miscues.
- With Keion Brooks Jr.’s 27 points tonight, UK now has four players who have scored at least 25 in a game this season, also Oscar Tshiebwe (three times), Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington.
- Between Brooks and Jacob Toppin, UK got 38 points and 11 rebounds tonight from the power forward position.
- Keion Brooks had a career-high 27 points, previous best was 23 last year vs. Tennessee.
- It is his second 20-point game of the season and 10th double-figure game of the season.
- He scored 15 straight points for UK at one point in the second half.
- He made 9 of 10 at the free-throw line, career highs in both categories.
- Oscar Tshiebwe nearly had an “average” night, as his 17 points and 14 rebounds being very close to his season averages of 16.3 points and 15.2 rebounds.
- It is his 15th double-double of the season, ranking third in the nation in that category.
- The nation’s leading rebounder has grabbed double-figure boards in all but two games this season.
- He also had a career-high four steals. He has had at least three thefts in four of the last five games.
- Kellan Grady tossed in 12 points, all coming on 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
- Over the last 12 games he is averaging 14.4 points per game while shooting 3 percent from the field (58 of 120), including 45.7 percent (43 of 94) from 3-point range.
- It is the ninth time this season he has made at least four 3-pointers in a game.
- Has made a 3-pointer in 15 straight games, most since Jamal Murray made a 3 in all 36 games of the 2015-16 season.
- He now has 301 3-pointers in his career.
- Sahvir Wheeler contributed seven points and the SEC assist leader had eight of those tonight.
- Since returning from injury, he has averaged 14.4 points over the last five games.
- It is his ninth game of the season with at least eight assists.
- Jacob Toppin was superb off the bench with 11 points and three rebounds in only 11 minutes of playing time.
- He had a perfect shooting night, making all four field goals, including a 3-pointer, and both free throws.
- Lance Ware also played well off the bench, contributing four points (2 of 2 FG) and four rebounds in 10 minutes.
- TyTy Washington Jr. returned after a one-game absence, totaling two points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Coach John Calipari
- John Calipari is now 356-97 at UK.
- Calipari has an 801-237 all-time on-court record.
- UK is 66-41 against Associated Press Top-25 teams under Calipari, including 2-3 this season, with all three losses coming away from home.
- Calipari is 5-7 vs. Kansas.
In the First Half
- After missing a game because of an injured ankle, TyTy Washington Jr. returned to the lineup and was joined by Sahvir Wheeler, Kellan Grady, Keion Brooks Jr. and Oscar Tshiebwe.
- That lineup now has a 13-4 record this season.
- Jacob Toppin was the first Kentucky substitution at the 17:08 mark, 12th time this season he has been first off the bench.
- Trailing 5-2, Kentucky made an 8-0 run and kept the lead for the remainder of the half.
- Ahead 17-13, another 8-0 spurt put UK ahead 25-13, coaxing a KU timeout at the 10:26 mark.
- Extending the lead to 35-20 caused another Kansas timeout with 7:10 remaining.
- Kentucky led by as many as 20 points at 49-29 and the halftime score of 51-31.
- This was the UK’s second-largest halftime lead vs. Kansas, largest was 21 points (48-27) on Dec. 11, 1976, when the Wildcats won 90-63.
- Kentucky’s 51 points in first half is UK’s most in a true road game since Dec. 29, 2016, when the Wildcats led Ole Miss 60-39 on the way to a 99-76 win.
- This is the first time Kansas has allowed 50 points at home in the first half since 2007.
- Led by Brooks’ 12 points and four rebounds, along with Tshiebwe’s 11 points and five boards, UK shot 61.4 percent from the field (21 of 34) and won the rebounding 23-12 in the first half.
- UK is 16-2 this season when leading at intermission.
In the Second Half
- Kentucky began the second half with the starting lineup.
- Tshiebwe opened the second half with a mid-lane jumper, giving UK its then-largest lead at 53-31, matched minutes later at 60-38.
- With the score 53-36, Brooks scored UK’s next 15 points.
- Trailing 62-41, Kansas went on a 7-0 run to narrow the gap to 62-48 with 13 minutes remaining.
- Brooks stopped the spurt with a pair of jumpers, giving him a career-high 25 points, and Kansas never seriously threatened again.
- Kentucky led by as many as 24 points at 78-54 and 80-56 before Kansas scored the final six points of the game to reach the final tally.
Brooks scored 15 of Kentucky’s 29 points in the second half and Tshiebwe’s nine rebounds in the final stanza helped keep the homestanders at bay.