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GAME GRADES: Kentucky-Kansas report card

Cats Illustrated hands out grades to each Kentucky player following the Wildcats' 65-61 loss to Kansas in the Champions Classic.

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USA TODAY Sports
Table Name
PLAYER GRADE EXPLANATION

Sacha Killeya-Jones

A

Did Kentucky find its center tonight? While Nick Richards was struggling on both ends of the court, Killeya-Jones was giving Kentucky production (8 pts, 4/6 FG, 9 rebounds) and as much energy as any other player on the court. He brought exceptional fight and it's going to be tough to keep him off the court. He knocked down open long jumpers and was relentless going after the ball on the glass. He and everyone else struggled to front Udoka Azubuike, and he was 0/3 from the free throw line (including missing one front-ender), but this was a great game for the sophomore.

Kevin Knox

A

Was this Knox's breakout performance? We'll see. He rose to the occasion on a big stage and we've seen that from other Kentucky freshmen under John Calipari. It was easily his best performance through three games. Knox finished with 20 points (8/13 FG) and was also one of the Cats' best rebounders. He was hot early and helped keep Kentucky in the game as Kansas opened up with a lot of intensity.

Hamidou Diallo

B+

Diallo could have been more efficient on offense (under 40-percent from the floor) but his 6/7 from the line helped and Kentucky needed every bit of his scoring. He played a solid all around game and some of those points were points that nobody else on the team could have created, like when he took a poorly thrown lob and finished off the glass higher than anyone else could reach. He played 37 minutes, far more than anyone else, so Calipari obviously knew he was a crucial player in this game.

Quade Green

B-

The numbers were not there for Green (6 points, 2/7 FG, 2 assists) but he didn't turn the ball over once in 22 minutes. His defense was a liability early, as Kansas got to the rim, but he played better on that end of the court in the second half and made some plays in transition.

Wenyen Gabriel

B-

For the second straight game Gabriel did not show up in a big way on the stat sheet. His footwork wasn't especially strong on defense, but when he came into the game in the first half Kentucky's fortunes did start to change (as Washington went out). He blocked a shot, had a steal and he led Kentucky with a +10 when he was in the game.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

C

Gilgeous-Alexander did produce in some areas (6 points, 3/7 FG, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) but his six turnovers were almost half the team's total and Kansas' 17 points off turnovers were a big factor in the Jayhawks' win. He was better defensively than Green but it was not his best game.

Nick Richards

C

It isn't Richards' fault that he found himself as the centerpiece of the offense for a stretch in the second half, but his limitations on that end of the court were made clear with some poor decisions and execution. Because of that, many might grade him lower. It's important to remember that Richards had nine boards, most of them in the second half, and that was a big reason the Cats were able to close the gap on the glass. He also continued to play hard and had a big bucket late. But his raw skill set showed up at times.

P.J. Washington

D

One game removed from earning the "beast" label from Calipari, Washington turned in a forgettable game. He didn't connect on one field goal attempt. His inconsistency would be remarkable except that he's a freshman who isn't a lottery projection. Washington did dish out three assists and he blocked four shots but he also turned it over four times and was slow to recognize double and triple teams crashing down on him that should have become predictable. He also looked a step slow on both ends.


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