Washington, Travis Lead No. 8 Cats Past No. 9 Jayhawks
LEXINGTON, Ky. – PJ Washington and No. 8 Kentucky hit the glass hard against No. 9 Kansas.
Washington scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half, and the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks 71-63 on Saturday in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
Washington, Reid Travis and Keldon Johnson powered Kentucky to a 49-36 rebounding advantage. Washington grabbed 13 boards, Travis had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Johnson also posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“I just came out aggressive, and that just shows on the glass,” Washington said after his fifth double-double this season. “I just tried to look for my shot, look for my teammates, just be aggressive.”
Neither team reached 40 percent shooting, but the Wildcats (16-3) were much better in the second half and held the Jayhawks (16-4) in check down the stretch of the marquee matchup between college basketball’s two winningest programs.
Kentucky dropped its three previous games against Kansas and trailed 33-30 at the break, but Johnson made three 3-pointers to help fuel the Wildcats’ big second half.
“I knew my teammates would give me the right shots,” said Johnson, who was 5 of 9 from the field. “I’ve worked very hard on my game, and I had confidence to come out and hit the big shots when I needed to.”
UK’s post duo helped deliver another statement win.
Game story ?? https://t.co/T6SwftWDuq pic.twitter.com/PjRsBWCZYj
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 27, 2019
Kentucky earned its sixth consecutive win, with the last three coming against Top 25 teams.
Dedric Lawson had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Jayhawks, and Quentin Grimes added 13 points. It was Lawson’s 14th double-double this season.
Kansas shot 37 percent (23 for 63) from the field in its second loss in three games.
“They didn’t really pressure us, but they didn’t have to,” coach Bill Self said. “And then when we do get in there, you’ve got to score over a lot of length and big guys. We didn’t do as good a job as we should have.”
Kentucky missed each of its eight 3-point attempts in the first half, and then went 4 for 10 from long range in the second half.
“That was the difference in the game,” coach John Calipari said. “If we go 0 for 10 in the second half, we lose the game. This is a good 3-point shooting team. That’s why I get bothered at times.”
Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans scored 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting, but once again made his biggest impact as a defensive force and facilitator. He had eight assists and three steals.
Kentucky could rise in the AP poll after beating its third ranked opponent in a week. Kansas could tumble out of the top 10 with its recent trouble.
Kansas: Lawson had a double-double by halftime, and the Jayhawks held their own on the glass for one half. They finished 9 of 23 from behind the arc but couldn’t match Kentucky’s athleticism in the second half.
“We wanted to win, but it’s not the end of the world,” Lawson said. “They went to the glass pretty hard, but our guys competed.”
Kentucky: The Wildcats still have their share of challenges ahead when Southeastern Conference play resumes next week, but they are coming along. Travis got off to a nice start, and his teammates picked up their play in the second half.
Kansas returns to Big 12 play on Tuesday at Texas, seeking a season sweep of the Longhorns. The Jayhawks won the previous meeting 80-78 on Jan. 14.
Kentucky returns to SEC competition at Vanderbilt on Tuesday after beating the Commodores 56-47 two weeks ago.