LEXINGTON, Ky. – Damn, how things have changed.
Eighteen days ago, the sky was falling over Kentucky men’s basketball. The Wildcats were 1-3 in SEC play after a 71-68 loss to lowly South Carolina and questions abounded about John Calipari’s future.
Kansas, on the other hand, was No. 2 in the Associated Press rankings and had just rallied to beat Oklahoma 79-75.
Now the Wildcats are the team riding a wave of momentum, with a four-game winning streak going into Saturday’s matchup between the two titans in Lexington. And the Jayhawks have dropped three straight for only the fourth time in Bill Self’s 20-year tenure — and are facing a fourth for the first time with Self on the sideline, and the first for KU since the 1988-89 season.
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So, can Kentucky take advantage of a faltering KU? Here are three quick facts that could decide the game:
Kansas slow starts are a problem
The Jayhawks fell behind in start and big in their three losses to Kansas State, TCU and Baylor. Kansas State had a 13-point halftime lead. TCU stunned Allen Fieldhouse by jumping to a 22-point lead before halftime. And Baylor had a 13-point lead over KU in Waco on Tuesday.
Can Kentucky exploit it? Perhaps. Fast starts have not been Kentucky’s MO this season. In its eight SEC games so far, UK has only led in the first media timeout once. And he also dug starting holes in losses to Gonzaga (10-2), Alabama (11-2) and South Carolina (13-2).
Kansas is in the throes of 3
The Jayhawks are making 35.7% of their tries this season, third in the Big 12 behind K-State (36%) and Oklahoma (35.8%). And freshman guard Gradey Dick leads the conference with 3-point percentage (43.7%). But in their last three losses, they have shot no better than 33.3% (vs. TCU) and are a total of 18-for-69 (26.1%). And Dick made just 5-for-21 (23.8%) in that stretch.
Can Kentucky exploit it? Possibly. Defending the perimeter has not been Kentucky’s strong suit in 2022-23. Opponents connect on 33.6% of their 3-point attempts, which places UK 10th in the 14-team SEC. But two of UK’s best performances have come in their last four games: Tennessee went 3-for-21 while Texas A&M was 3-for-16.
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Rebound? Not Kansas strength
KU lost the rebounding battle to both Baylor (35-33) and TCU (36-30), while managing a tie with K-State (38-38). Kansas is barely in the top 200 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage and hovers around 100th in offensive rebounding percentage.
Can Kentucky exploit it? Take it to the bank. Kentucky leads Division I in offensive rebounding percentage, posting 38.8%. It also ranks among the best in defensive rebounding percentage (77.9%), behind only Arkansas’s 78.4% among SEC teams. Oh, and Oscar Tshiebwe plays for the Wildcats.
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When is the UK vs KU basketball match?
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 28
Where is it: Rupp Arena (20,500)
What channel is the Kentucky vs Kansas basketball game on?
The game will be broadcast on ESPN. Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analysis) and Holly Rowe (sidelines) will get the call.
Eligible subscribers can find the game on Spectrum 28, DISH Network 140 and DirecTV 206.
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How to stream the Kentucky-Kansas basketball game?
You can watch the game through WatchESPN.com, the WatchESPN app, ESPN+, or fuboTV.
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How to stream Kentucky vs Kansas basketball game for free?
You can stream ESPN on YouTube TV, which offers a free trial here, and you can get a free trial with fuboTV here.
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How to listen to UK vs KU basketball game on the radio?
Tom Leach (play-by-play) and Jack Givens (analyst) will be calling the UK Radio Network at 840AM in Louisville and at both 630AM and 98.1FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.
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What is the history of the Kentucky vs Kansas men’s basketball series?
Kansas surpassed the United Kingdom last season for the most wins in college basketball history and lead the Wildcats 2,373-2,367 on Saturday. But in the head-to-head matchup, Kentucky leads the series 24-10. Kentucky won their first five meetings and won 16 of 17. This included an 11-game streak from 1974 to 1984.
However, it has since become more competitive.
The Jayhawks maintain a 9-8 lead in their last 17 games and have won four of their last six dating back to the 2016 Big 12/SEC Challenge, which KU won 90-84 in overtime. And KU has its place in the Kentucky record books — and not one the Wildcats remember fondly. Kansas handed the United Kingdom its most lopsided defeat of the modern era, beating the Wildcats by 55 points, 150-95, in 1990. , 87-17.) Kansas’ 150 runs are also the most the United United have ever conceded in a single game.
Of note: Calipari is 5-7 against Kansas in his career, but is 5-4 as a coach at Kentucky.
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Kentucky-Kansas basketball betting odds, spread, over/under
Kentucky enters Saturday night’s game as a 2.5-point favorite, according to Tipico Sportsbook, starting Saturday afternoon. The over/under is 140.5 points and the UK moneyline is -150.
Men’s basketball Kentucky vs Kansas live updates, score, highlights
Reach Kentucky men’s football and basketball reporter Ryan Black at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @RyanABlack.