In what’s become an early season theme, Kentucky’s offense disappeared in the second half for the second straight game, as No. 7 Kansas held off the Wildcats 65-62 in Tuesday’s late game at the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
Kentucky led by double figures in the first half (28-15), but shot just 22/61 (36.1%) for the game. Mintz and BJ Boston led the Wildcats in scoring with 12 points each.
Trailing 5-2 early, Kentucky would cap a 15-0 run on a Davion Mintz steal and run out dunk to lead 17-5 at the 10:58 mark. Dontaie Allen hit Kentucky’s first three pointer in 19 attempts to give the Wildcats a 13 point lead at 26-13 with 6:12 left in the half. However, Kentucky did not have a field goal over the final 3:10 to let Kansas back in the game as the Wildcats held on for a 35-39 halftime lead.
In the second half, Kansas would storm back to take the lead on two free throws to go up 39-38 and two more free throws pushed the lead to 44-40 with 10:00 remaining.
Sarr hit a jump hook to tie the game at 55-all at the 3:05 mark before the Jayhawks went on a 8-4 run to extend the lead to 63-59 on a made free throw. Mintz then hit a tough three pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to 63-62 with 12.4 left as Kansas connected on two free throws to close out the scoring at 65-62 as Mintz missed a three to tie on UK’s final possession.
Offensively, Kentucky experienced multiple scoring droughts and struggled again from behind the three-point arc (3-for-21) and have shot just 19.1% (9-for-47) over the first three games.
Without question, the play of Isaiah Jackson was the highlight of the night as the 6-foot-9 freshman was sensational in the post, blocking eight shots and grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds. He also scored seven points in 30 minutes of action.
Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin also made a big splash on Tuesday, scoring six straight points for Kentucky off the bench to bail out a dismal offense in the second half.
Kentucky, now ranked 20th in the new AP Poll, takes its 1-2 record into Sunday’s matchup with Georgia Tech in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta, Georgia.