Balanced Kentucky holds off Kansas
Looking for his family soon after a loss, Tyshawn Taylor tried to keep things in perspective for this young Kansas team.
Tied at halftime, No. 2 Kentucky ran off 11 straight points in 3 1/2 minutes early in the second half to beat the 12th-ranked Jayhawks 75-65 on Tuesday night.
"It's only two games in," the senior guard from just over the river in New Jersey said philosophically. "It sucks to lose like this, especially when you're right there and you feel you can win the game. It's a learning experience. We're just going to build. We've still got a tough schedule."
Kansas was set to arrive home early Wednesday morning then leave for Maui two days later. Their first opponent there is Georgetown, and later matchups could include Duke, Memphis, Michigan and UCLA.
"It probably won't get tougher than the No. 2 team in the country," Taylor said. "We competed. We played good defense at times. We just didn't really take care of the ball how we wanted to and how we practiced."
Taylor scored 22 points to lead the Jayhawks (1-1), going 15 for 17 at the line but just 3 of 13 from the field. Thomas Robinson added 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 3:31 to go.
With the score tied at 30 a minute into the second half, the Wildcats quickly turned a close game into a laugher. Terrence Jones flashed a fierce stare right at a television camera following a thunderous dunk. Marquis Teague broke into a big grin after a 3-pointer from the left side, then added a floater to give Kentucky a 41-30 lead.
Doron Lamb scored 17 points, and Jones had 15 in a matchup between the two winningest programs in college basketball.
Anthony Davis added 14 points and seven blocks for the balanced Wildcats (2-0), an impressive winner at Madison Square Garden in the State Farm Champions Classic. Starting three highly touted freshmen, Kentucky gave John Calipari his first career win against Kansas, a school that brings up both fond and painful memories for the third-year Wildcats coach.
On almost any other night, a matchup between these two basketball blue bloods in the center of New York City would be the headline act. After all, the last time the two elite coaches squared off, Bill Self led Kansas to a comeback victory over Calipari and Memphis in the 2008 national title game.
But this one was overshadowed by the doubleheader opener, when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his record-setting 903rd career win with a 74-69 victory over Michigan State.
The Jayhawks held Kentucky to 38.5 percent shooting in the first half when they led by as many as seven points. But 10 Kansas turnovers helped the Wildcats stay in it. In the second half, Kentucky's mix of size and speed proved too much.
"Their best offense for a long period of time was our offense," Self said. "Our bad shots and turnovers led to run-outs and dunks and easy baskets that you're going to have a hard time defending. So I really think that we helped them, but they were also a lot better in the second half than the first half."
Calipari improved to 1-3 against Kansas, where he began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant in 1982. Calipari came out onto the court to lead his players away when there was a brief scuffle on the baseline with 6:11 left.
The Wildcats haven't won it all since 1998, but this year they boast an enviable mix of new talent and tournament experience that makes them a legitimate contender.
Kentucky owns the most wins in Division I with 2,054, while Kansas is second with 2,038. The Wildcats lead the series 20-6, but Kansas had won three in a row.