Cats are said to have nine lives but Jayhawks showed they know a little bit about second chances, too, in the Champions Classic.
No. 4 Kansas pulled down 18 offensive rebounds and converted them into 20 points to slip past No. 7 Kentucky 65-61 on Tuesday night at the United Center in Chicago.
The last five proved to be the difference as Lagerald Vick came up with a pair of offensive rebounds that turned into a jumper by Svi Mykhailiuk and a 3-pointer by Malik Newman as part of a 10-4 run to close the game.
Newman and Devonte Graham sank four consecutive free throws to seal a hard-fought victory for Kansas (2-0).
Kentucky (2-1) trailed by as many as 11 in the first half but pulled within 34-33 at the break.
"The first half we gave them so many rebounds for points that we had no chance, even though the score was close," UK coach John Calipari said.
The Cats used a 12-4 run late in the second half to surge ahead 57-55 but could not match the Jayhawks' big plays down the stretch.
Mykhailiuk had 17 points to lead Kansas. A pair of former UK recruiting targets, Udoka Azubuike and Newman, added 13 and 12, respectively.
Kansas won despite shooting only 35 percent (24 of 68) from the field.
Kentucky got 20 points and seven rebounds from freshman forward Kevin Knox. Redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo added 14 points for the Cats.
"We still have to figure out who we are and how we have to play," said Calipari, whose team shot 42 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers.
In this Cats Illustrated "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the UK loss...
Kentucky took one of the youngest rosters in college basketball and played competitively on Nov. 14 against a Top 5 team with veteran guard play. The Cats displayed some good fight to overcome an 11-point deficit in the first half and a six-point hole in the second half. Kevin Knox looked like a superstar, carrying the offensive load with some big-time buckets.
Ball security. The Cats were a wreck with their ball-handling, turning the ball over 18 times. Freshmen Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and PJ Washington combined to cough it up 10 times.
Rebounding. This was a game UK would have won comfortably without a terrible rebounding performance in the first half and a couple of breakdowns late. KU led 20-8 at one point on the glass despite playing only one big man in the form of Azubuike.
Lagerald Vick, Kansas -- His shots weren't falling consistently but the junior guard had a nice floor game with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Almost every time there was a key momentum swing in the game, he was at the center of it.
BY THE NUMBERS:
2 - Kentucky's largest lead of the night.
3 - Straight wins for Kansas in the series against Kentucky.
10 - Blocked shots for UK, led by four by PJ Washington.
12 - Steals by KU, who saw six different players record at least one.
17-3 - Advantage in bench scoring for UK, led by eight for Sacha Killeya-Jones, who also pulled down nine rebounds.
30 - Points in the paint for the Jayhawks.
39-39 - The teams wound up even on the glass.
"We shot the ball like crap tonight, but we made tough plays." - KU guard Devonte Graham.
Kentucky returns to action Friday against East Tennessee State in a 7 p.m. ET tipoff at Rupp Arena on the SEC Network. The Buccaneers (1-1) opened the season with a 81-63 loss to Northern Kentucky but bounced back to beat Savannah State 76-61 in their second game.