Gleaning some insight from KU-UK Part I

April, 1, 2012
NEW ORLEANS -- Kansas versus Kentucky was the undercard on Nov. 15, the junior varsity game at the Champions Classic.

Now, they are playing for the title.

That night in New York at Madison Square Garden was all about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his attempt to break Bob Knight's all-time wins record. He did when Duke knocked off Michigan State.

Kentucky and Kansas officials weren't overly thrilled at the time that the lead-up to the game was all about Duke and Coach K.

But that was the news of the weekend. It's not now.

And while the rematch shouldn't carry too much weight for Monday night's title game, it does open a window to what might occur.

Kentucky won 75-65 after the game was tied at 28-28 at the half.

"I would just say it would behoove us not to play behind like we have," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We did a good job of guarding their best offense but they got a lot of run-outs and dunks off bad shots. Our offense was awful.

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Anthony Davis
Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/Getty ImagesAnthony Davis and Kentucky pulled away from Kansas during the second half in the teams' first meeting back in November.

"In the second half, they just wore us out," Self said. "They played so well in the second half. We're two totally different teams and we're a lot better and they're a lot better."

Kentucky coach John Calipari said that the Wildcats were getting hammered early in the first half.

"We made shots, turned them over," Calipari said. "But this [Monday] is going to be a 40-minute game."

The players don't put too much stock in the game.

But the familiar faces played well, even then.

Anthony Davis scored 14 points and had seven blocks for Kentucky. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 12 and had nine boards. The one major difference for Kentucky is that point guard Marquis Teague had a poor assist-to-turnover rate with three assists and six turnovers. He has improved tremendously since then.

Kansas' Thomas Robinson had a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards. Tyshawn Taylor was 3-of-13 from the field, but did get to the line to make 15-of-17.

Jeff Withey then was hardly what he is now, even though he did have four blocks for the Jayhawks.

"They beat us up," Robinson said. "They beat us up pretty bad and they got the best of me emotionally and physically. I can't let that happen anymore."

Taylor said the Wildcats ran away from the Jayhawks in the second half.

"That feels like a whole another season since that game," Taylor said. "It's a game of runs and they kind of blew us out. We'll have to slow them down and not let them have transition. We have to take good shots and defend. If we do that we'll be fine."

Travis Releford said he only remembered that the Jayhawks lost the game.

Kentucky's Doron Lamb had to think for a moment that it was even played.

"I forgot about that game," Lamb said. "But they've got a great team, great guards and a great big man that will be a challenge [Monday]."

A nonconference rematch doesn't matter much in March or April. Even though Kansas just won one against Ohio State to get to the title game, the game was totally different since Jared Sullinger did not play in the first meeting.

Kansas and Kentucky are using the same players now as they were in November. But if you haven't seen either team play since, you won't recognize them as much Monday night. They have all improved mightily and the stage they're playing on isn't even close. That was for a win and a ranking in November. This is for a title in April.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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