Sidelines with John Clay

Reaction to Kentucky basketball’s win over Kansas

Links from Kentucky’s 71-63 win over Kansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday:

Kentucky overpowers the Jayhawks, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Two isn’t necessarily better than one all the time. But it was in a “bigs” way Saturday night in Rupp Arena. As expected, Kentucky’s depth in the post impacted the game against Kansas. With PJ Washington and Reid Travis contributing double-doubles, UK won 71-63.”

Kentucky’s defense is legit, was one of my takeaways. “Over what is now a six-game winning streak, the Cats have shot up the defensive efficiency charts. That should continue after another stellar effort in which John Calipari’s club held the Jayhawks to 36.5-percent shooting from the floor. Kansas was 9-of-23 from beyond the three-point line, but was just 14-of-40 inside the arc and was outscored in the paint 38-20.”

Saturday was a day UK fans should savor, says Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “Two-and-a-half hours before the game, the line of University of Kentucky students waiting to get into Rupp Arena to see the No. 8 Wildcats face No. 9 Kansas stretched deep down the High Street sidewalk. When John Calipari and Bill Self sent their starting lineups to midcourt for the opening tip, the crowd noise in Rupp was so loud, my eardrums were vibrating.”

Marcus Garrett’s off game was a big deal for Kansas, reports Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star. “ Marcus Garrett was ready to throw the ball to Dedric Lawson. There was no chance to get it there, though. It was early in the second half when Garrett stood at the top of the key, searching for a way to dump it inside to his team’s best scorer. Impossible.”

Kansas’ Big 12 dominance could be in question, writes Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. “ Bill Self has an ass problem. ‘We’re light in the butt,’ he said, ‘to put it mildly.’ John Calipari? He’s got an abundance of buttocks. Self volunteered that unexpected posterior status report Saturday night in Rupp Arena, after his Kansas Jayhawks were beaten by Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats 71-63. Big butts made a difference in this game, and could make a difference in how far each program can go in March.”

Kentucky and Kansas stars making most of fresh starts, writes Myron Medcalf of ESPN. “Between the two of them, No. 9 Kansas and No. 8 Kentucky played eight top-30 recruits from ESPN’s 2018 class in their Big 12/SEC Challenge matchup on Saturday. Yet the crux of the battle, won 71-63 by Kentucky, was staged in the paint, where Dedric Lawson (20 points, 15 rebounds) and Reid Travis (18 points, 12 rebounds) fueled their respective squads.”

Kentucky climbs back into the Final Four conversation, writes Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. “You remember then? It was college basketball’s opening night and Wildcats coach John Calipari took the worst statistical loss of his career when Duke demolished his higher-ranked Wildcats to the blaring tune of 118-84. That outcome was stunning, and while the parade of Blue Devils publicity has endlessly spooled out from that night, it’s worth noting that Kentucky’s loss was as surprising a defeat, circumstances considered, as Calipari’s ever had.”

Kentucky delivered a message, says Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal. “Consider it message delivered. Facing its biggest opportunity in the national spotlight since a season-opening blowout loss to Duke, Kentucky put the college basketball world on alert that this team is no longer the one from that embarrassing November night in Indianapolis.”

Kentucky is back, says Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk. “This win is the latest in a string of impressive victories for the Wildcats, who suddenly have the look of a team that is a very real threat to cut down the nets on March. Last Saturday, they went into Auburn and knocked off the No. 16 Tigers before picking off No. 22 Mississippi State by 21 points on Tuesday. This makes three straight wins over ranked teams and pushes Kentucky’s winning streak to six games; they’ve won nine of their last 10 since the overtime loss to Seton Hall.”

UK took advantage of a frontcourt mismatch, reports Derek Terry of the Cats Pause. “With one of his frontcourt players out for the season with a hand injury and the other ruled ineligible, Kansas Coach Bill Self said his frontcourt was “light in the butt.” Junior star Dedric Lawson had the unenviable task of facing four Kentucky big men.”

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