LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Jalen Wilson scored 22 points, including one in a series of huge 3-pointers down the stretch, and No. 9 Kansas held off Kentucky 77-68 Saturday night in an SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Jayhawks (17-4) seized the lead for good midway through the first half before withstanding every Wildcats challenge in this tense marquee matchup of college basketball blue bloods. Gradey Dick and Wilson provided two of their biggest shots with consecutive 3-pointers for two-possession edges, with Wilson's 3 making it 70-64 with 4:13 remaining.
Oscar Tshiebwe made two free throws to get Kentucky within four, but Kevin McCullar Jr. sank another 3 for a 73-66 advantage. Wilson then answered Jacob Toppin's jumper with one of his own to make it 75-68 with 1:52 left. Kansas, which won the national championship last season, avoided its first four-game losing streak under coach Bill Self.
Tshiebwe had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Jacob Toppin and Cason Wallace each added 14 for Kentucky (14-7), which had won its previous four.
Wilson made 9 of 18 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds for Kansas, which finished even with Kentucky at 49% shooting. K.J. Adams Jr. added 17 points, Dick had 13 and McCullar 11 with 12 rebounds as the Jayhawks edged Kentucky 34-29 on the glass.
Kansas got back on track with an important win that will keep the Jayhawks in the Top 10.
Kansas: The Jayhawks were outshot by Kentucky much of the night but consistently made crucial baskets and big defensive plays to keep an edge. It was just what they needed after their slide amid a seven-game Big 12 gauntlet featuring five ranked teams.
Kentucky: Poor first-half free throw shooting dug another hole that the Wildcats managed to overcome. They get close, but couldn't get even, and finishing 16 of 23 from the line ultimately hurt them.
Kansas hosts No. 5 Kansas State on Tuesday, seeking to avenge its 83-82 overtime loss on Jan. 17.
Kentucky visits Mississippi on Tuesday night in search of its fifth consecutive SEC win.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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