Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Experience Over Youth: No. 2 Kansas Takes Down No. 4 Kentucky
By MIKE McCURRY
In a battle between the top two winningest programs in Division 1 college basketball, one of either No. 4 Kentucky or No. 2 Kansas was going to leave Rupp Arena on Saturday with a two-game losing streak.
At first, it looked like the Jayhawks would suffer that fate, as they trailed 29-17 early. Kentucky dominated the initial 15 minutes, Malik Monk looked like he was headed toward another 40-point performance, and Landen Lucas was saddled with foul trouble.
Incredibly, Kansas proceeded to outscore Kentucky 62-44 the rest of the way, culminating in a 79-73 Jayhawks’ victory in enemy territory.
Frank Mason scored a game-high 21 points, while freshman Josh Jackson added 20 to go along with 10 rebounds. Lucas wound up with 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting.
Bill Self brilliantly sprinkled in a 2-3 zone, a look that only Derek Willis (18 points, 5-of-6 from deep) seemed comfortable against. Kentucky turned the ball over 17 times and Monk disappeared for long stretches following that scorching start.
As a result, John Calipari and Kentucky have accrued a losing streak for just the second time in the past three seasons–both have included setbacks against Kansas and Tennessee, ironically.
It’s also UK’s second home loss this year, albeit to a pair of Top-10 teams in UCLA (back in early December) and now Kansas–the Wildcats lost just two home affairs combined in the previous three years.
Kansas, meantime, improved to 16-4 against teams ranked inside the AP Top-5 under Self.
For the Jayhawks, Saturday’s win marks the end of a rather tumultuous week. Not only was key reserve Carlton Bragg suspended for the second time in a two-month span, but the ongoing legal case surrounding an alleged rape that took place at the same dorm that houses the men’s basketball team has been a ‘huge distraction,’ according to Self.
Follow Mike on TwitterFollow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook