The Kentucky Wildcats landed a haymaker in the heavyweight battle against fellow blue blood Kansas on Saturday with a convincing 80-62 over the 5th-ranked Jayhawks.
The Wildcats now move to 2-1 this season against college basketball’s elite programs, beating Kansas and North Carolina after falling to Duke to start the season.
Kentucky dominated Saturday’s win on both ends of the floor, holding Kansas standout Ochai Agbaji to just three first half points to take a commanding 51-31 lead at halftime, becoming the first team since 2007 to score more than 50 points in the opening half at historic Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas led just twice in the game, opening the scoring with a three-pointer and then leading 5-2 before Kentucky took control and shot 56.1 from the field over the first twenty minutes and dominated the boards with a 28-15 advantage.
In the second half, Keion Brooks took over, scoring 15 straight points to finish with a career-high 27 to keep the throttle down in route to the blow out.
Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds to stay among the nation’s leaders in double-doubles. Kellan Grady added 12 points, while Jacob Toppin finished with 11.
Per ESPN, Kentucky’s 18-point win is the largest margin of victory on the road against an AP Top-5 team in program history.
Brooks picked the perfect time to turn in a career-best effort, fighting his way to 27 points and eight rebounds to garner MVP honors.
The Indiana native was outstanding against a Kansas defense that played both a zone and a triangle-and-two in hopes of stopping Kentucky’s perimeter shooters. The 6-foot-9 forward responded by nailing several mid-range jumpers and earned several trips to the free throw line, finishing 9-for-10 from the charity stripe. Most importantly, Brooks was active on the boards and took some of the pressure off Tshiebwe, who leads the nation in rebounding.
The No. 12th-ranked Wildcats are now 17-4 (6-2) and host Vanderbilt on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.
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