Game 3: No. 20 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

The No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks look to pick up their first marquee win of the year on Tuesday night, as they take on the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats as part of the annual Champions Classic. The Jayhawks are coming off a convincing win over St. Joe’s down in Fort Myers. Sophomore, Christian Braun had a breakout performance, as he went for a game-high 30 points on 10-13 from the field. One the other hand, the ‘Cats come in off a home loss to an upstart Richmond Spiders team. The Jayhawks are 2-1 all-time against UK in the Champions Classic, but that one loss did come in Indianapolis — the infamous 72-40 defeat. 

  • Tuesday, December 1, 2020, 8:30 pm CDT
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse –  Indianapolis, Ind. 
  • ESPN or ESPN Appn
  • The top-two winningest programs in college basketball history will meet for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons when No. 7/5 Kansas takes on No. 20/9 Kentucky as part of the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 1. 
  • Kentucky is first in NCAA Division I all-time wins at 2,319, while Kansas is next with 2,303. The blue-blood programs have also combined for 32 Final Fours with Kentucky at 17 and Kansas at 15.
  • KU head coach Bill Self was a graduate assistant at Kansas under Larry Brown in 1985-86. Kentucky coach John Calipari was an assistant coach at Kansas from 1982-85 under coaches Ted Owens and Brown.
  • Both schools’ home facilities are named after Kansas greats. Kentucky’s Rupp Arena is named after Adolph Rupp, a KU graduate who played at Kansas in 1923 under coach F.C. “Phog” Allen, of which Allen Fieldhouse is named.
  • Kansas entered the season ranked No. 6 in the preseason Associated Press and No. 5 USA TODAY Coaches’ top-25 polls. The Jayhawks have been ranked sixth or higher in each of the last eight preseason AP polls and in the top five in the last seven coaches’ polls.
  • KU has been ranked in each of the last 222 AP polls dating back to 2008- 09. The 222-consecutive weeks in the polls is an all-time record surpassing UCLA’s 221 from 1966-80. KU holds the same streak in the coaches’ poll at 229.
  • With its win against Saint Joseph’s (11/27), Kansas improved to 97-13 following a loss in the Bill Self era, which started in 2003-04, including 3-0 last season in 2019-20. Incredibly, KU has been even more efficient over the last six-plus seasons, amassing a record of 46-5 after losses.

Wildcats to Watch

Brandon Boston Jr. – 6’7”, freshman, forward

The freshman has been a force to start has career. Boston is averaging 17.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG. In Kentucky’s loss to Richmond, he poured in a team-high 20 points and pulled down 10 boards. He’s been UK’s go-to player on offense so far to start the season. 

Terrence Clarke – 6’7″ freshman, guard

Clarke is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 PPG, second in assists at 2.5 APG and is pulling down 5.0 boards per game. Clarke can do a little bit of everything for the ‘Cats.  

Jayhawk Player of the Game Prediction
Ochai Agbaji – 6’8”, junior, forward

I’ll ride somewhat of the hot hand and go with Agbaji as my pick to click in this one. The junior has been fantastic in the first two games, averaging 17.5 PPG and shooting 44 percent from distance. In the Gonzaga preview, I noted that Agbaji would be an x-factor for this team this year, so far he’s been just that. I’ll go with him to be a key part for KU on Tuesday night.

Prediction

As with most Coach Cal Kentucky teams, they are very athletic and talented, but quite young and inexperienced, which showed in their loss to a veteran Richmond team. Because of Covid, UK (and everyone else) didn’t have a whole off season to come together as a team, so I think there will be some even more noticeable growing pains for the ‘Cats in the early going. I’m going with the Jayhawks to pull out a W in this one. I like KU’s experience and shooting to be the difference in this one. 

Not only has KU unleashed the three in the first two games, the Jayhawks are also shooting 44 percent from three-point land to start the season. As for the Wildcats, they’re shooting 23.1 percent from deep. Look for KU to turn up the pressure defensively and try and turn the ‘Cats into a jump shooting squad.  

Kansas 86, Kentucky 77
KU -2

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 1-1 (1-1 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.