Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 79-73 loss to Kansas:
How the game was won
Down 31-20 with 3:39 left in the first half, Kansas went to a 2-3 zone and completely flummoxed Kentucky as the No. 2 Jayhawks rallied for a 79-73 victory over the No. 4 Wildcats.
1. Bill Self. The KU coach switching from man-to-man to the zone completely shifted the momentum of the game.
2. Josh Jackson. The versatile Kansas swingman (20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists plus the game-clinching bucket off an offensive rebound) was the best freshman in the game — and it wasn’t close.
3. Kansas veteran guards. Senior Frank Mason III (21 points, four assists) and junior Devonte’ Graham (12 points, seven rebounds) showed UK the benefit of experience in the backcourt.
4. Derek Willis. Kentucky’s senior forward (18 points, 5-of-6 three-pointers) is all that kept Kentucky in the game offensively — but his being outfought by Kansas’ Jackson for that offensive rebound that yielded the game’s pivotal basket negated some of the good.
Running suicide drills
1. Kentucky freshmen guards. De’Aaron Fox turned the ball over five times. Malik Monk forced bad shots (1-of-6 shooting in the second half). UK guards again struggled to make “the right plays” in crucial situations.
2. Running the offense through Bam Adebayo. It will be tough for Kentucky to succeed throwing the ball into Bam in the post as its offensive staple if the freshman big man is going to turn the ball over (four) and miss free throws (4-of-10) at a rate as high as he did Saturday night.
3. UK’s hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Hard to see much hope on Selection Sunday to be a top seed for a team that has one move-the-needle win (North Carolina) and no more obvious chances to get one.
18-3 and 4-5. Before Bill Self became Kansas coach, Kentucky was 18-3 vs. Kansas. Since Self, UK is 4-5 vs. the Jayhawks.
Boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer was back to implore “Let’s get ready for round-baaaallllll!” The Rupp Arena crowd made the Guiness Book of World Records for loudest indoor roar. Ex-UK star, NBA champion and Olympics gold medalist Tayshaun Prince was the “Y.” With Mark Stoops & Co. hosting some high-level recruits on the last weekend before next Wednesday’s college football national signing day, UK called many of its current stars — Stephen Johnson, Benny Snell, Jordan Jones — to midcourt for ovations.
Kentucky (17-4, 7-1 SEC) will face Georgia (13-8, 4-4 SEC) Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Rupp Arena in a game that will be televised by ESPN. Coach Mark Fox’s Bulldogs beat Texas 59-57 Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It will be the final game for veteran television sports announcer Brent Musburger, who will provide play-by-play on the ESPN telecast.
Know your foe
1. Georgia is 3-4 this season in true road games. The Bulldogs have won at Georgia Tech, Auburn and Mississippi but lost at Clemson, Oakland, Florida (in overtime) and Texas A&M (by one point after a clock controversy mired the ending).
2. John Calipari is 11-2 as Kentucky head coach against Georgia. The Wildcats have beaten the Bulldogs six in a row and nine out of 10.
3. Georgia’s most recent victory in Rupp Arena was on March 4, 2009, a 90-85 victory. It turned out to be the final game Billy Gillispie coached for UK in Rupp.