LEXINGTON, KY (KSNT) – In the middle of a rare three-game losing streak for Kansas men’s basketball, the Jayhawks got a break from the Big 12 to play Kentucky in a blue blood Big 12/SEC Challenge matchup.
Neither team led by double-digits in this back-and-forth affair, as the Jayhawks held on and ended their losing streak with a 77-68 victory.
The highly anticipated matchup started as a defensive battle, with Kentucky taking its largest lead of the game at 11-6 five minutes in.
A Dajuan Harris Jr. 3-pointer capped a 10-4 run for the Jayhawks minutes later. Kansas took its first lead of the game at 16-15.
The offenses picked up the pace, but KU was hitting more shots. With two minutes left in the first half, Kansas took its largest lead of the game at 39-30 on a Kevin McCullar Jr. free throw. Two Kentucky baskets cut into the deficit. Kansas led 41-34 heading into the locker room.
The second half was a dog fight. The Jayhawks’ lead fluctuated between 4-8 points for most of the period. The Wildcats cut the lead to just two points with five minutes left.
Big time players made big time plays following the near-tie. Gradey Dick, McCullar Jr. and Jalen Wilson all knocked down three-pointers in clutch time. With two minutes to go, Kansas extended its lead to 75-68.
The deficit was too much for Kentucky to overcome with under a minute to play. After a back-and-forth game, Kansas came away on top with a 77-68 victory.
Wilson led the team in scoring with 22 points, adding 8 rebounds. K.J. Adams Jr. provided 17 points, Dick 13 points, McCullar Jr. 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Harris Jr. had 8 points with 8 assists.
The win breaks a rare three-game losing skid for the Jayhawks, boosting the team’s record to 17-4, 5-3 in conference play. Kansas gets in-state rival K-State at home Tuesday in a Sunflower Showdown rematch.