The No. 1 Wildcats put their defensive prowess on full display in the State Farm Champions Classic, holding No. 5 Kansas to 19.6 percent shooting from the field and blocking 11 shots on their way to a stunning 72-40 victory over the Jayhawks.
Kentucky (3-0) overwhelmed Bill Self’s squad with its two-platoon rotation of long, athletic defenders. Four different Cats were credited with at least one rejection, including Karl-Anthony Towns (4), Marcus Lee (4), Alex Poythress (2) and Willie Cauley-Stein (1).
Kansas trailed only 38-28 at the half, but Kentucky held the Jayhawks to 3-for-23 shooting (13 percent) after the break as the lead continued to swell. KU was held without a basket the final 12 and a half minutes of play.
“Kansas is going to be fine,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Great coach. He'll get it done, he'll get 'em going. They just ran into a buzzsaw today.
"We really guarded. It was a great defensive effort."
It marked the loweest scoring total for Kansas in the shot-clock era.
Offensively, Kentucky got 11 points from sophomore center Dakari Johnson and 10 points and four assists from sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison on a night when 12 different Cats found the scoring column. UK shot a modest 43 percent, but committed only six turnovers.
Kansas (1-1) failed to place a player in double figures. Wayne Selden led the Jayhawks with nine points, but shot 4-for-12 from the floor. Backcourt mate Frank Mason went 1-for-10.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highs and lows:
WHAT WE LIKED: Kentucky simply overwhelmed a young, but talented Kansas squad that doesn’t appear to have the 3-point shooting needed to challenge the Cats at this point in the season. The platoon system kept UK fresh and able to sell out on the defensive end of the floor almost all night long. The one exception was an 11-3 run just before the half that helped the Jayhawks cut an 18-point deficit to 10. It was one of only two points in the entire game that Self's squad got baskets on consecutive trips down the floor. Kansas did not match Kentucky’s halftime total of 38 points until 4:08 remaining in the game.
KEY MOMENT: Kansas had a bit of momentum at the intermission, but UK wasted no time in erasing it as the Platoon No. 2, aka the “White” unit, had a 6-0 spurt to start the second half. Baskets by UK bigs Johnson, Trey Lyles and Lee helped get the lead back to 16 and erase any thoughts of a comeback.
STAT OF THE DAY: The Cats blocked one out of every five Kansas field goal attempts (11 of 56) in the game. UK had as many rejections as KU had made field goals.
QUOTABLE: "I was hoping that was vodka." – Kansas coach Bill Self after sitting down at the postgame press conference and taking a sip from a bottle of water. "... I thought (the Wildcats) were great. You get long athletes who can guard, and they can cover up for mistakes as well as anyone I've ever seen. They were really, really impressive."
UP NEXT: Kentucky returns to action Friday night in a 7 p.m. ET tip-off against Boston University (0-1), who lost its opener to Northeastern 71-65. The Terriers play their second game on Wednesday at Norfolk State before heading to Lexington.