No. 4 Kansas squeaks past No. 7 Kentucky
CHICAGO — With the ball in his hands and the game on the line, Kansas Jayhawks guard Malik Newman never hesitated.
The sophomore quickly buried an open 3-point shot with 2:10 remaining to give the Jayhawks a four-point lead and No. 4 Kansas held on for a 65-61 win over No. 7 Kentucky on Tuesday night at the United Center.
“When we’re open like that, coach always tells us, ‘Let it fly,’” said Newman, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. “I was open. It looked good. It felt good. Why not take it? Put the icing on the cake.”
The shot led to a sweet ending for Kansas (2-0), which has won its first two games for the first time since the 2013-14 season. The Jayhawks snapped a two-game skid against Kentucky.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk led Kansas with 17 points. Udoka Azubuike contributed 13 points and eight rebounds in the victory.
Kevin Knox scored 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Wildcats. Hamidou Diallo added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists for Kentucky (2-1).
“You can only learn about your team in games like this,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari, whose roster is filled with eight freshmen. “We’re a ways away to be what we need to be. But to play in a game like this in that environment and have a chance to win, wow, a bunch of freshmen did pretty good.”
Kansas led by one when Newman’s 3-pointer from the left wing increased the advantage to 61-57. Kentucky climbed back within two points on a layup by Knox to set up a wild final minute.
Knox missed a jump shot that would have tied the game with 18 seconds remaining, and Kansas made four free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
“It was a great, grind-it-out win,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I’m proud of my team.”
The score was even at 55 with five minutes to go. Forward Nick Richards gave Kentucky a 57-55 advantage with his first basket of the game, but Kansas quickly pulled back even on a jump shot by Mykhailiuk.
Neither team led by more than four points during the first 10 minutes of the second half. Guard Lagerald Vick provided a highlight-reel play when he grabbed a defensive rebound and fired a one-handed strike down the middle of the court to Mykhailiuk, who caught the pass in stride and threw down a slam dunk.
Kansas established a 34-33 edge at halftime.
The Jayhawks jumped out to a 20-9 lead in the first seven minutes of the game thanks to a blend of outside shooting and production in the paint. Kentucky responded with a 19-8 run to even the score at 28 late in the first half.
“They’re a veteran team, we’re a really young team,” Knox said. “We really fought tonight. If we can keep playing like that, later on in the year we’re going to be really good.”
NOTES: Kansas F Billy Preston did not play as the school investigates a single-vehicle crash that he was involved in Saturday night. No one was injured, but administrators want “a clearer financial picture specific to the vehicle,” according to a statement released by Kansas coach Bill Self. ... Kentucky F PJ Washington was limited to two points and two rebounds two days after he posted the team’s first double-double of the season against Vermont. ... Self matched Roy Williams for second place in school history with 418 victories. Phog Allen is first with 590 wins.