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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Takeaways and Postgame Notes from narrow loss to Kansas

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Kentucky comes up just short in a 65-61 loss to Kansas

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Kansas Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky went into a tough matchup very early in the season with an extremely young team, even for Cal’s standards, and showed that they can play with the top teams in the nation.

And once again, with some work, this will be a team capable of making it to the Final Four.

Kentucky, for the most part, played a good game in Chicago, but still came up just short and lost to Kansas by a final score of 65-61 in the Champions Classic.

In the first half, the Cats shocked some people with how well they played. The rebounding was a concern, as Kansas outrebounded Kentucky 24-13 with 15 of them being offensive rebounds that resulted in 15 second-chance points.

Still, the Cats entered the half down 34-33 and were still very much in position to win, something few thought would be the case.

Some players really stood out in the first half, one of those being Kevin Knox. Who knows where Kentucky would be without Knox on the floor. He poured in 12 points and shot 3-4 from the three-point line. His offensive showing kept the Cats in it.

Also, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played a big role in keeping it close, not on the offensive end but on defense he was disruptive for the Kansas offense. He had two of the Cats’ six first-half steals and tipped some passes out of bounds. His length proved to give Kansas a hard time moving the ball. Considering how the Cats were outrebounded, they showed that they will not quit and put together a solid first half against the 4th-ranked team in the nation.

The second half saw a different Kentucky team on the floor. The Cats came out and outrebounded the Jayhawks 26-15 for a game total of 39-39. Ultimately- the second half turnovers hurt Kentucky the most and a game total of 18 turnovers is not good. Kansas outscored the Cats 31-28 in the second half. Ultimately, the offensive rebounds and the turnovers are what costs Kentucky the most.

A few takeaways from the game:

1. Sacha Killeya-Jones played a really good game. With Nick Richards struggling he came in and provided rebounds and made some big plays in the second half to keep Kentucky in it.

2. Kevin Knox is as good as advertised. Knox finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Cats in scoring and showed that when Kentucky needs a basket he should be the first option.

3. Although this team is one of the youngest we have ever had, the fan base doesn’t need to dwell on this loss and let it determine the season. This team is very talented and once they clean up the turnovers and start rebounding the ball (both of which are fixable) they can be a scary team come March.

So overall, we should be pleased with how this team performed this early in the season and should be very excited about the future and enjoy watching this team develop and grow. By the time March rolls around I will take this team over any team in the country.

Now, here are the postgame notes from the game, courtesy of UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

· Kentucky is 2-1. Kansas is 2-0

· Kentucky leads the overall series 22-10

o UK leads 8-2 at neutral sites

o Kansas leads 2-1 in Chicago

o Kansas has won three in a row in the series

· Kentucky is now 4-3 in Champions Classic games. That’s tied with Duke for the best mark in the event’s seven-year history

· Next for the Wildcats: UK returns to Rupp Arena Friday to play ETSU at 7 p.m. on SEC Network

In the First Half

· Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the second time this season, and the second time in a row

· Kansas did not trail after taking the lead from the first possession, and had its largest lead –

of 11 points, 18-7 – at the 14:08 mark

· Kentucky scored five in a row between the 7:10 and 6:17 marks, capped by a long 2-pointer by Wenyen Gabriel to tie the game at 28-28

· Kentucky took its first lead of the game, 33-32, when Gabriel hit a free throw at the 2:14 mark

· Kansas regained the lead on a Malik Newman layup with two minutes to play and the halftime score was 34-33

· Kansas outrebounded Kentucky 24-13 in the first half, and had a 15-1 advantage on the offensive glass

In the Second Half

· The lead changed 10 times, and the score was tied five times

· Kentucky’s last lead was at 57-55 with 3:38 to play

· Kentucky won the rebounding battle 26-15 to finish the game tied in total rebounds 39-39

· Kansas had a 10-1 advantage in steals in the second half

Team Notes

· UK has had at least three players with three or more assists in all three games this season

· Kentucky scored a season-low 61 points – UK had scored 73 in each of the previous two games

· Kentucky committed a season-high 18 turnovers

· Kentucky grabbed a season-high 39 rebounds

Player Notes

· Kevin Knox had a career-high 20 points. He’s scored in double figures in all three games this season.

· He grabbed seven rebounds, had two steals and a block

· He made a career-high three 3-pointers

· Knox is the fourth Kentucky freshman to score at least 20 points in a Champions Classic game (Alex Poythress vs. Duke, Nov. 13, 2012; Julius Randle vs. Michigan State, Nov. 12, 2013; Malik Monk vs. Michigan State, Nov. 15, 2016)

· Hamidou Diallo had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists

· He’s scored in double figures in all three games

· Sacha Killeya-Jones played a career-high 30 minutes

· He notched career highs in rebounds (nine) and blocks (three)

· He scored a season-high eight points

· PJ Washington blocked four shots, a career high

· Nick Richards grabbed nine rebounds

Coach John Calipari

· Calipari is now 251-54 at Kentucky

· Calipari has a 696-194 all-time on-court record

· Calipari is 3-6 vs. Kansas in his career