Kentucky Basketball: Blue Blood domination of KU behind Tshiebwe, Brooks

Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin (Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin (Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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462. Final. 80. 528. 62

It was billed as the battle of the blue-bloods matching the two all-time winningest college basketball programs of all time. Yet for a solid 40 minutes, it was the blue of Kentucky basketball standing alone at the top thoroughly dominating and humiliating Kansas 80-62.

Try as they might Kansas ran into a Kentucky team that sent some strong statements about the victory in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

This Wildcat team is built for March Madness and has its sites set on the Final Four and Championship in New Orleans come April 4. If they play like they did today teams should be very afraid.

Kentucky started the day with a narrow lead in all-time NCAA wins leading Kansas to 2,344-2,340. Coupled with Kentucky’s disastrous season last year the Jayhawks had shaved 15 games off the margin in the past two seasons.  It was nice to pad the lead back by one game.

Kentucky basketball makes several statements in dominating win

Kentucky’s last win over an Associated Press top-five opponent in a true road game was Dec. 27, 2014, when Big Blue won at No. 4 Louisville, 58-50. Even more impressive was the fact Saturday’s win was Kentucky’s largest margin of victory (18 points) in school history against a top-five team in a true road game.

Statement No. 2 is that Oscar Tshiebwe should be a heavy odds-on favorite for player of the year honors after another double-double game of 17 points, 14 rebounds, and a team-high four steals.

The final shot to ring out is that Keion Brooks Jr. has arrived delivering a career-high 27 point performance while adding eight rebounds.

Big Blue Nation was worried that it would be without TyTy Washington, Jacob Toppin, and Daimion Collins who all missed practice on Thursday. Much to our delight, Washington was back in the starting lineup after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.

Toppin didn’t miss a game but he too looked fit for action and the Cats needed him as well solidifying the No. 4 start with Brooks. The team feeds off his energy when he comes off the bench and he too delivered an 11 point and 3 rebound effort. That included 4-for-4 field goals, 1-1 from 3-point range, and 2-2 at the foul line.

Kansas, who rarely loses at home, saw its 18 game home win streak against major conferences end, and Jayhawk fans headed to the exits early as chants from Kentucky fans who as usual got in yelling “Go Big Blue”.

No. 5 Kansas (17-3) led 5-4 just 1:40 into the game, but they could only watch No. 12 Kentucky rocket past them and were left out of sight in UK’s rear-view mirror.

The last time Kentucky won at Allen Fieldhouse was in 1983 when John Calipari was an assistant on the Kansas sideline. That needed to change.

So Kentucky choose to play probably its best game all season with an all-around effort and throttled the Jayhawks early and never really let up.

The Wildcats were 6-1 all-time against when leading in Lawrence at the intermission. A peek at the scoreboard showed UK leading 51-31 this season. Those 51 were the most in a true UK road game since they hung 60 on Ole Miss back in 2016.

Other than Kansas befuddling Kentucky for a short time when they switched to a 2-3 zone defense in the second half, Kentucky was in command and control throughout the contest.

A few quick takeaways from the game as the Wildcats prepare for the final 10 regular-season Southeastern Conference games.