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CATS Miss Opportunity, Fall to Jayhawks

photo Danny Pendelton - Bluegrass Sports Nation

Kentucky loses another to a Top 10 Opponent 77 to 68 to Kansas

LEXINGTON – January 28, 2023 – Michael Willis

The atmosphere was electric tonight in Rupp Arena for the highly anticipated SEC/Big 12 Challenge game against Kansas. With College Gameday visiting Lexington and with Kentucky looking to push their winning streak to five, the Big Blue Nation were in line early to fill the stands.

Even the rowdy Rupp Arena crowd couldn’t help the Cats defeat the Jayhawks. Kansas overtook the lead with 9:17 left in the first half and never gave it back to Kentucky and won 77 to 68.

The crowd was into the game well before the game even started. Jacob Toppin scored the opening points of the game and remained aggressive in the opening minutes of the game. The surprise of the game was the quick start of Chris Livingston who scored 8 of the first 20 points for the Wildcats. Kentucky (56%) and Kansas (48%) both shot well from the field in the first half. However, poor free-throw (4-11) and three-point shooting (0-6) caused the Wildcats to be down 41 to 34 at the half.

Kentucky chipped away at the 7-point lead pulling within one with 11:55 left in the game. However, the Jayhawks scored 5 points in 25 seconds to push the lead back to 6. With 5:15 left in the game, the Cats had pulled within 2 and it looked as if the momentum had shifted in their favor. Kansas responded by hitting 3 three-pointers to make the comeback impossible for the Wildcats. Kansas won 77 to 68.

There were many reasons for the nine-point loss, including missed three-point attempts. The team combined for 2 of 13 from behind the arc and didn’t make a three until the second half. The Wildcats also did not have any second chance points tonight and were out-rebounded 34 to 29.

Oscar Tshiebwe led the Cats in scoring with 18, but didn’t complete a double-double with 9 rebounds. The best Wildcat performer tonight was Cason Wallace with 14 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. He was also the only Kentucky player that hit a three-pointer.

Bill Self stated that he knew that he could score on the pick-and-roll play and they took advantage of it. If John Calipari wants to have a successful year, then he will have to find a way to defend it. Kentucky will go on the road to face their next SEC opponent Ole Miss and with the loss to Kansas all of the games become must-win to ensure that they make the NCAA Tournament.

1st Half2nd Half
3-Pt FG%37.50%15.38%


Final Score: No. 9 Kansas 77, Kentucky 68

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky ended a four-game win streak and is 14-7 overall.
  • Kansas ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 17-4.
  • Kentucky holds a 24-11 advantage in the all-time series.
  • UK leads 8-3 in games played in Lexington.
  • Next for UK: the Wildcats travel to Oxford to take on Ole Miss on Tuesday. Game time is 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CT in Oxford) and the game will be televised by ESPN.

Team Notes

  • The SEC/Big 12 Challenge concludes this season. UK went 5-4 in the event, including 2-3 vs. Kansas.
  • One of the nation’s top offensive rebounding teams, Kentucky was limited to four offensive rebounds and the Wildcats were outscored 11-0 on second-chance points.

Player Notes

  • Oscar Tshiebwe paced the Wildcats with 18 points and nine rebounds.
    • The big man also has been an especially adept passer recently as he continues to receive extra attention. He had four assists tonight, the fifth straight game with three or more.
  • Jacob Toppin had 14 points, his fourth straight double-figure game and 12th of the season.
  • Cason Wallace had 14 points, his 12th double-figure scoring game of the season.
    • He led the Wildcats with five assists, the seventh time this season he has paced the Cats in that category.
  • Antonio Reeves came off the bench to score 10 points, his seventh straight double-figure game and his 16th of the season.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari is 5-8 vs. Kansas, including 5-5 at UK.
  • Calipari has an 824-248 all-time on-court record and is 379-108 in 14 seasons at UK.
  • UK is 68-48 (58.6%) against ranked competition under Calipari.

Rupp Arena

  • Kentucky is 644-79 (89.1%) in the 47-year history of Rupp Arena.
  • Kentucky is 217-19 (91.9%) in Rupp Arena under Calipari, including 24-7 against Associated Press top-10 opponents.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky opened with a starting lineup of Cason Wallace, CJ Fredrick, Chris Livingston, Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe for the fifth game in a row.
  • Antonio Reeves was the first substitute at the 12:49 mark.
  • Midway through the first half, Kansas was trailing 22-21, but the Jayhawks outscored UK 20-12 the rest of the way and took a 41-34 advantage into halftime.
  • Livingston and Toppin led Kentucky with eight points each.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky began the second half with the starting lineup.
  • UK edged within 47-43 and Kansas called timeout with 16:10 on the clock.
  • UK pulled within 51-50 but a Jayhawk 3-pointer, steal and layup quickly restored a six-point lead.
  • The Wildcats crept within two points on four occasions (58-56, 60-58, 62-60, 64-62) but Kansas replied with scores each time.
  • Ahead 64-62, Kansas hit three 3-pointers to stretch the lead to 73-66 with three minutes remaining and the Jayhawks held on to win.

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