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Wildcats fall in Rupp: Kansas ends skid at expense of Kentucky in Big 12/SEC showdown
LEXINGTON, Ky. — My, how things have changed.
Eighteen days ago, the sky was falling on Kentucky men's basketball. The Wildcats were 1-3 in SEC play following a 71-68 loss to lowly South Carolina and questions abounded about John Calipari's future.
Now the Wildcats are the team riding a wave of momentum, on a four-game winning streak entering 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 risk a fourth for the first time with Self on the sideline, and the first for KU since the 1988-89 season.
So, can Kentucky take advantage against a reeling KU? Here are three quick facts that could decide the game:
Kansas' slow starts an issue
The Jayhawks have fallen behind early and big in their three losses to Kansas State, TCU and Baylor. Kansas State had a 13-point lead in the first half. TCU stunned Allen Fieldhouse while jumping out to a 22-point advantage before halftime. And Baylor had a 13-point edge over KU in Waco on Tuesday.
Can Kentucky exploit it? Maybe. Quick starts haven't been Kentucky's MO this season. In its eight SEC games so far, UK has led at the first media timeout just once. And it also dug itself early holes in losses to Gonzaga (10-2), Alabama (11-2) and South Carolina (13-2).
Kansas is struggling with the 3
The Jayhawks are making 35.7% of their attempts this season, third in the Big 12 behind K-State (36%) and Oklahoma (35.8%). And freshman guard Gradey Dick leads the conference in 3-point percentage (43.7%). But in the last three losses, they've shot no better than 33.3% (against TCU) and are a combined 18 for 69 (26.1%). And Dick has made just 5 of 21 (23.8%) in that stretch.
Can Kentucky exploit it? Possibly. Defending the perimeter hasn't been Kentucky's strong suit in 2022-23. Opponents are connecting on 33.6% of their 3-point attempts, which ranks UK 10th in the 14-team SEC. But two of UK's best performances have come in its past four games — Tennessee went 3 of 21 while Texas A&M was 3 for 16.
Rebounding? Not Kansas' strength
KU lost the rebounding battle to both Baylor (35-33) and TCU (36-30), while it managed a draw with K-State (38-38). Kansas barely is 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, grabbing 38.8%. It also ranks among the best in defensive rebounding percentage (77.9%), trailing only Arkansas' 78.4% among SEC squads. Oh, and Oscar Tshiebwe plays for the Wildcats.
When is the UK vs KU basketball game?
When: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Jan. 28
Where: Rupp Arena (20,500)
What channel is the Kentucky vs Kansas basketball game on?
The game will be televised on ESPN. Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analysis) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will have the call.
Eligible subscribers can find the game on Spectrum 28, DISH Network 140 and DirecTV 206.
How to stream the Kentucky-Kansas basketball game?
How to stream the Kentucky vs Kansas basketball game for free?
Where are they now?The 2012 University of Kentucky men's championship basketball team
How to listen to the UK basketball vs KU game on the radio?
Tom Leach (play-by-play) and Jack Givens (analyst) will have the UK radio network call on 840 AM in Louisville and both 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.
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What is the series history for Kentucky vs Kansas men's basketball?
Kansas passed UK last season for the most program wins in college basketball history and leads the Wildcats 2,373-2,367 entering Saturday. But in the head-to-head matchup, Kentucky leads the series 24-10. Kentucky won the first five meetings and 16 of 17. That included an 11-game streak from 1974 to 1984.
It's become more competitive since then, though.
The Jayhawks hold a 9-8 edge in the past 17 contests and have taken four of the past six dating back to the 2016 Big 12/SEC Challenge, which KU won 90-84 in overtime. And KU has its own place in Kentucky's record book — and not one the Wildcats fondly remember. Kansas handed UK its most lopsided loss of the modern era, walloping the Wildcats by 55 points, 150-95, in 1990. (The only game with a worst margin of defeat for Kentucky came in 1910, when it lost to Central University by 70, 87-17.) The 150 points Kansas scored also are the most UK ever has allowed in a single game.
Of note: Calipari is 5-7 vs. Kansas in his career but is 5-4 as Kentucky's coach.
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Kentucky-Kansas basketball betting odds, spread, over/under
Kentucky enters as Saturday night's game as 2.5-point favorites, according to Tipico Sportsbook, as of Saturday afternoon. The over/under is 140.5 points and the UK moneyline is -150.
Kentucky men's basketball vs Kansas live updates, score, highlights
Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @RyanABlack.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky basketball vs Kansas: How to watch live, betting odds, scores