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John Calipari and Wildcats recap Kansas, plus postgame notes

A loss is a loss, but boy did Kentucky show a lot of potential in Chicago.

Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday night, falling to the Kansas Jayhawks in the Champions Classic, 89-84.

This was Kentucky’s first true test of the 2023-24 season, as the Jayhawks are the consensus No. 1 team and the trendy pick to win the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Kentucky looked every bit like a Final Four contender, even leading by double figures in the second half, but the veteran Jayhawks finished strong and came away with the W.

Kentucky was once again without the services of Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso, who are recovering from foot surgery, while Zvonimir is awaiting clearance from the NCAA. The hope is Bradshaw will begin practicing in the next week or two, while Ivisic could be cleared any day now.

Up next, Kentucky returns home for a Friday matchup with Stonehill, followed by games vs. St. Joe’s (Nov. 20) and Marshall (Nov. 24).

Following Tuesday’s game, head coach John Calipari and select players met with the media. Here is a recap of what they had to say via UK Athletics.

And here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics.

Team Records and Series Notes

  • In a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, Kansas outlasted Kentucky, 89-84, in the Champions Classic in Chicago.
  • Kentucky is 2-1 on the season, Kansas is 3-0.
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series 24-12, but trails 3-2 vs. Kansas in the Champions Classic.
  • The Wildcats return to action Friday at home against Stonehill in the second game of the Wildcat Challenge. Game time is 7 p.m. ET and it will be televised on SEC Network+.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky is 5-8 all-time in the Champions Classic.
  • Kentucky is 9-16 all-time against a No. 1-ranked team.
  • UK is 23-13 all-time in games played in the metro Chicago area. The last 11 of those games have been played in the United Center, with UK holding a 7-4 mark in that arena.
  • Despite a fast-paced game, UK had only eight turnovers, and all three games this season have been single-digit miscues by the Wildcats.
  • Kentucky made 12 of 38 3-pointers, marking the most 3-point attempts of the Calipari era. The previous mark was 33 long balls attempted on three occasions.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 14 points. The Wildcats are 331-15 (95.7%) in the Calipari era when leading by as many as 10 points at any time during the contest.

Player Notes

  • Antonio Reeves led UK with 24 points, giving him back-to-back 20-point outings.
  • Rob Dillingham had a season-high 18 points and has hit double-digits in all three games. He also tied for the team lead in assists with three.
  • After missing the previous game because of concussion protocol, Adou Thiero posted his first career double-double, and UK’s first double-double of the season, with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
  • Reed Sheppard had a season-high 15 points, making 4-of-5 from the field, featuring 3-of-4 on 3-pointers. He also had four steals.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has an 834-254 all-time on-court record and a 389-114 mark at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 69-50 at UK against ranked competition.
  • Calipari is 6-5 in his career against No. 1-ranked teams, including 3-3 while at UK.
  • Calipari is 83-34 at Kentucky in games played at neutral sites.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky started D.J. Wagner, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero and Tre Mitchell.
  • Kansas jumped out 9-0 before Thiero rattled home a 3-pointer at the 16:57 mark.
  • Jordan Burks and Rob Dillingham were UK’s first substitutions with 15:35 remaining.
  • An 8-0 run tied it at 11 and a pair of Reed Sheppard 3-pointers gave UK a 17-16 lead.
  • Trailing 25-21, Dillingham hit four straight 3-pointers and Reeves added another long ball as UK went ahead 36-30. A Mitchell free throw extended it to 37-30.
  • UK got its largest lead of the half at 48-36 but Kansas got the last five points to narrow the gap to 48-41 at intermission.
  • The 48 points represent UK’s most ever in the first half against a No. 1-ranked team.
  • Thiero led UK with 13 points and nine rebounds – both career highs – in the first half.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky began the second half with the starting lineup.
  • Kentucky lengthened the lead to 58-44, its largest of the game, at the 15:14 mark.
  • Kansas rallied with a 21-4 run, retaking the lead at 65-62 with 10:53 to go.
  • Trailing 72-71, a putback by Thiero, a fastbreak basket-and-one by Reeves, and a driving layup by Sheppard shoved the Wildcats back on top, 78-72, at 5:43 on the clock.
  • With the Wildcats still ahead 83-78 with 3:12 to play, Kansas closed the game on an 11-1 spurt to claim the win.