CHICAGO (AP) — A chance to build some Self-awareness was too much for Kansas to pass up. Beating a marquee program was a nice little bonus.
Svi Mykhailiuk scored 17 points, and Devonte Graham hit the clinching free throws to give No. 4 Kansas a 65-61 victory over No. 7 Kentucky on Tuesday night that put Self in a tie for second with Roy Williams on the Jayhawks’ all-time wins list.
“It’s an all win and no lose game cause nobody is going to look at it and say well, you lost to Kentucky or you lost to Duke or Michigan State and have it be a negative,” Self said after his team scrapped for the win in a seesaw game. “I think what this game does early in the season — if you can stand to watch it, because I know that wasn’t very pretty — I think what this game is it obviously gives you confidence, but it makes you more aware of who you are and I think that’s always good.”
In a game that matched the two winningest Division I programs, the Jayhawks (2-0) prevailed after the two teams spent most of the second half trading baskets and leads.
Malik Newman had a key rebound in the closing seconds and hit two foul shots to help Kansas knock off the Wildcats (2-1). The down-to-wire game capped a powerhouse Champions Classic doubleheader that started with No. 1 Duke beating No. 2 Michigan State 88-81.
Mykhailiuk hit three 3-pointers. Udoka Azubuike scored 13 points. Newman scored 12 and Graham had 11, helping Self pick up his 418th win at Kansas to tie Williams for second behind Phog Allen (519).
“We had already discussed in the huddle, we needed three stops,” Newman said. “I think that was like the second or third one, so I mean it was just all about getting stops like coach said and I mean we knew we couldn’t give up (any) second shots, so it was all out for all the rebounds and just went after it.”
Kevin Knox scored 20 and nailed three 3s for Kentucky (2-1). Hamidou Diallo added 14 points. But the Wildcats came up short after rallying to beat Utah Valley and hanging on for a four-point win against Vermont.
“We really fought tonight. A lot of people had us losing this game at least by 20, 30 points,” Knox said. “But we said before the game it wasn’t (going to) happen. They’re a veteran team. We’re a really young team. A lot of people thought they had the advantage. But tonight we really fought our butts off.”
Kentucky was leading 57-55 after Nick Richards scored on a tip-in. Mykhailiuk hit a short jumper for Kansas and Graham hit a free throw. Newman then hit a 3 to bump the Jayhawks’ lead to 61-57 with just over two minutes left. It was 61-59 when Kentucky’s PJ Washington blocked a 3 by Mykhailiuk as the shot clock went off with 33 seconds left, giving the Wildcats a chance to tie or take the lead. But Knox missed a jumper along the baseline.
Newman grabbed the rebound for Kansas and hit two free throws with 17 seconds left to make it 63-59. Kentucky’s Sacha Killeya-Jones scored on a put-back with eight seconds left. But Graham made two foul shots with seven seconds remaining to close things out.
“It was a great grind-it-out win,” Self said. “We dealt with some stuff today and certainly to basically play six guys and be able to pull that off when we were totally gassed, I’m really proud of my team.”
Kansas held Billy Preston out of the game because he was involved in a single-car accident, another round of trouble for the freshman forward. Benched for the opener against Tennessee State because he missed both curfew and class, he found out just before the pregame meal that he wasn’t playing against Kentucky, either. Coach Bill Self said in a statement that Preston was involved in a “single-vehicle incident” on campus on Saturday. He said no one was hurt, but Preston’s car was damaged. Self said the administration “determined that we needed a clearer financial picture specific to the vehicle” and that the 6-foot-10 Preston will remain out “until the review is complete.”
Kentucky: Though they’ve been shaky so far, the Wildcats hung in against another powerhouse. But it’s clear the young Wildcats, with five freshmen starting, also have some work to do. They grabbed just one offensive rebound in the first half compared to 15 for Kansas and had 18 turnovers in the game.
Kansas: The Jayhawks will take the win, though they’ll need to shoot better than this. They were 35.3 percent from the field and 8 of 28 on 3-pointers.
Kentucky: The schedule eases a bit for Kentucky, with a home game against East Tennessee State on Friday.
Kansas: The Jayhawks meet South Dakota State to start a rather light stretch in the schedule on Friday. They close out the month against Texas Southern, Oakland and Toledo before facing Syracuse on Dec. 2.