Kansas basketball vs. Kentucky recap: Jayhawks win SEC/Big 12 Challenge game 77-68

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Kansas men’s basketball’s 2022-23 regular season continued Saturday with a non-conference matchup on the road against Kentucky.

The No. 9 Jayhawks came in after a loss on the road against No. 17 Baylor. The Wildcats came in after a win on the road against Vanderbilt. Last season, Kansas lost at home against Kentucky.

Was coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks squad able to end its three-game losing streak? Was coach John Calipari’s Wildcats squad able to extend the four-game winning streak it had put together? The two sides matched up in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Here's what happened inside Rupp Arena:

FINAL: Kansas 77, Kentucky 68

Kansas leads 70-64 against Kentucky with 3:37 left in 2nd half

The free-throw and foul disparities in the second half have been striking. Kansas has been called for nine fouls that have led to 10 free throw attempts already for Kentucky, not to mention two more after this break. The Wildcats have been called for three fouls in the second half that have led to three total free throw attempts for the Jayhawks.

However, Kansas has still been able to maintain a lead throughout the second half. Kentucky hasn't led since it was up 22-21 in the first half. Neither team has led by double digits.

Kansas leads 58-54 against Kentucky with 7:29 left in 2nd half

Kansas could really use a better offensive performance from Gradey Dick. The star freshman is 3-for-10 from the field shooting the ball, including 0-for-4 on 3s. With 7:29 left in regulation and the Jayhawks up four points, he has just six points himself on the evening.

Kansas is also on the verge of putting Kentucky in the bonus, as the Jayhawks have six fouls in the second half. The Wildcats haven't been great shooting free throws tonight, but also are 6-for-6 so far in the second half shooting free throws. So, that could be a serious advantage for Kentucky down the stretch.

Kansas leads 56-50 against Kentucky with 11:03 left in 2nd half

Jalen Wilson hit a 3-pointer, and Gradey Dick laid one in after a defensive stop, to put Kansas up six points with about 11 minutes left in regulation. Kentucky had pulled within one point on a 3-pointer of its own, but allowed the Jayhawks to take the momentum right back. The Wildcats' crowd had really gotten into it before this recent stretch.

Wilson leads all scorers with 15 points, and is close to a double-double as he has seven rebounds. He may only be 6-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-2 on 3s, but he's hit some shots when Kansas has needed them most. And he's also 2-for-2 from the free-throw line.

Kansas leads 51-45 against Kentucky with 14:08 left in 2nd half

Kevin McCullar Jr. is going to check back into the game for Kansas after this break. He'd suffered, or maybe aggravated, an injury earlier this half and left the bench to get some attention for it. But it appears it wasn't serious enough to knock him out of the game, even if he does seem to be slightly limping still.

McCullar has eight points and nine rebounds so far. So, he isn't too far away from a double-double. And with how Kentucky is playing in the second half, the Jayhawks will need him to produce.

Kansas leads 47-43 against Kentucky with 16:10 left in 2nd half

Kevin McCullar Jr. went out with an injury, and Kansas saw Kentucky go on a 9-4 run after that occurred. The Jayhawks lead by just four points now with about 16 minutes left in regulation. The Wildcats' crowd is right back in it.

KJ Adams Jr. has been impressive offensively for Kansas in the second half, but defensively has left something to be desired in recent possessions. Oscar Tshiebwe has been getting some easy looks for Kentucky on offense, and connecting. Both have two fouls, so it'll be interesting to see which one forces the other to pick up a third.

Kansas' Zuby Ejiofor is out for the game

HALFTIME: Kansas 41, Kentucky 34

Kansas leads 34-29 against Kentucky with 3:48 left in 1st half

Kansas' first two options with its bigs, KJ Adams Jr. and Zuby Ejiofor, have each picked up two fouls in the first half. Ernest Udeh Jr. is getting some minutes in the first half here because of it. But the Jayhawks have still found a way to maintain a lead, and are up five points with a little less than four minutes remaining until halftime.

MJ Rice just recently got some minutes in a lineup with Gradey Dick, Dajuan Harris Jr., Jalen Wilson and Udeh. Rice hasn't played much this season, or of late, but still has a lot of promise for what he can mean to this team. He was a widely heralded recruit coming in just like Dick.

Kansas leads 24-22 against Kentucky with 7:58 left in 1st half

The Jayhawks are maintaining a slim lead with just a little under eight minutes left before halftime. Both sides are shooting the ball really well, each at 58.8% from the field. They'd probably have more points if they weren't being as sloppy with the ball as they have been so far.

KJ Adams Jr. did just pick up his second foul for Kansas, leading to this break. So, that'll be something to watch as the half progresses. Adams was clearly frustrated in the huddle, and Zuby Ejiofor is going to get some extended playing time now.

Kentucky leads 20-18 against Kansas with 11:04 left in 1st half

Kansas actually took a brief lead, 16-15, after Dajuan Harris Jr.'s second 3-pointer of the game. But, now the Jayhawks are trailing again. They're down two points at this break with about 11 minutes left before halftime.

Jalen Wilson still leads Kansas with eight points. He and his teammates are making a point to penetrate Kentucky's defense and try to create from there. The Jayhawks are shooting 8-for-14 from the field and 2-or-4 from behind the arc so far.

Kentucky leads 9-4 against Kansas with 15:49 left in 1st half

The Jayhawks are down five points a little more than four minutes into the game, and could very well be down more. The Wildcats have missed some opportunities at the free-throw line. The crowd is into it, and that only helps Kentucky.

Kansas' four points have all come from Jalen Wilson, which probably doesn't surprise many people. Gradey Dick has already picked up an early foul, so that'll be something to watch moving forward. And while KJ Adams Jr. hasn't allowed Oscar Tshiebwe to score yet for Kentucky, the Wildcats really haven't needed him to do much offensively yet besides draw attention.

The game has started

Here are the starters for tonight

No surprises as Kansas continues to go through warmups

Kyle Cuffe Jr. is also unavailable for Kansas

It doesn't look like Cam Martin will play for Kansas

Kansas players are starting to warm up

It's game day

Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. He is the National Sports Media Association’s sportswriter of the year for the state of Kansas for 2022. Contact him at jmguskey@gannett.com or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Live Kansas basketball vs. Kentucky updates, score as KU takes on UK