The IARP’s recent decision to strip 15 victories from Kansas’ all-time record — as penalty for use of an ineligible player during the 2017-18 season — cost the Jayhawks their standing as the country’s winningest men’s basketball program.
Kentucky was No. 2 at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season, trailing KU by 10 games (2,385 wins to 2,375). But now UK leads the Jayhawks by five games (2,377 to 2,372) entering Tuesday’s Champions Classic contest at Chicago’s United Center.
Tipoff is set for approximately 8:30 p.m. with a live telecast on ESPN.
Both teams enter with 2-0 records this season; thus, a KU victory would move the Jayhawks to within four games of the Wildcats. A UK win, meanwhile, would increase Kentucky’s margin over KU to six wins.
The Jayhawks officially passed Kentucky as the winningest program in men’s college basketball history in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Kansas claimed its 2,354th win when it beat Providence in the Sweet 16, while Kentucky had been eliminated by St. Peter’s in the first round.
Kansas’ run to the 2022 NCAA tournament title broke Kentucky’s streak of 26 years as the winningest school. But now those bragging rights reside in Lexington.
Prior to KU passing UK in all-time wins during the 2022 NCAAs, KU coach Bill Self said: “I do think it would be nice to have that distinction. Those types of things can be used for recruiting potentially. I do think it adds interest and certainly adds pride with your loyal fan bases and your alums. But I don’t really think that what happens now really has a lot to do with what happened in 1950 and 1935 and other years like that.”
A year ago, ahead of KU’s 77-68 victory over UK in the final Big 12/SEC Challenge in Lexington, Self said: “It’s not a huge deal to me. I think it’s a bigger deal to a fan base and everything that can lay claim to that. But it’s not a big deal to me. I had absolutely zero to do with Phog Allen ripping off 50 (wins) out of 53 (games) back in (19)56 and ’57. I had nothing to do with that so I think it’s a bigger deal to the collection of the fan base to take pride in that.”
Kentucky, by the way, leads in the head-to-head series against the Jayhawks. UK is 24-11 overall against the Jayhawks entering Tuesday’s Champions Classic.
The Jayhawks, however, are 8-5 versus the Wildcats in the 21-year Self era — 3-0 vs Tubby Smith-coached Kentucky teams; 5-5 versus UK teams led by John Calipari. KU has won five of the last seven games in the series.
Overall, at all schools, Self is 6-6 in head-to-head matchups against Calipari, who worked on the staffs of Larry Brown and Ted Owens at KU.
Self’s 2007-08 Jayhawks defeated Calipari’s Memphis Tigers in the ’08 national title game. Calipari’s Memphis Tigers defeated Self’s Illinois Fighting Illini in the other meeting between the Hall of Fame coaches.
“We know how good they are. We have played them. We’ve played them here, we’ve played them at Kansas, we played them in different (venues) — this event,” UK coach Calipari said after Friday’s 81-61 victory over Texas A&M Commerce. “We get them, they get us. It’s always that kind of competitiveness,” Calipari added.
Self’s KU teams have fared better against the Wildcats than squads of his predecessors. Roy Williams went 1-3 versus UK. Larry Brown was 1-2, Ted Owens 1-12, Dick Harp 0-1 and Phog Allen 0-1.
KU started to narrow the gap on UK by claiming three straight victories in the series in 2016 and ’17. The Wildcats halted their mini-slide in 2019, however, downing the Jayhawks, 71-63, on Jan. 26, 2019 at Rupp Arena. KU bounced back to win, 65-62, on Dec. 1, 2020 in Indianapolis. On Jan. 29, 2022 UK clobbered KU in Allen Fieldhouse, 80-62.
Ku bounced back last season to win at Kentucky 77-68.
KU went 6-4 all-time in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, which has concluded. KU went 3-2 in the Challenge versus UK.
Here’s a quick look at the 12 head-to-head matchups between Self-coached teams and Calipari-coached teams.
Kansas 77, Kentucky 68, Jan. 28, 2023, Lexington: Jalen Wilson scored 22 points and KJ Adams added 17 as the No. 9-ranked Jayhawks knocked off the unranked Wildcats in a Big 12/SEC Challenge contest at Rupp Arena.
Gradey Dick contributed 13 points and Kevin McCullar had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Jayhawks, a team that entered the contest following losses to Kansas State, TCU and Baylor.
“We talked about it every day,” point guard Dajuan Harris said of the three-game losing streak. “We needed this win for our confidence, but it was against Kentucky, so we really wanted to win this game.”
Oscar Tshiebwe scored 18 points with nine rebounds and four assists for Kentucky, which had a four-game winning streak snapped by KU.
“They were more physical than us, which surprised me,” said UK coach Calipari.
Wilson scored 10 points while Harris snapped a slump by scoring eight points and dishing four assists against two turnovers in the first half, as KU led 41-34 at the break. McCullar grabbed eight rebounds and scored six points in the half.
UK which led early 9-4, 11-6 and 20-16, was led by Jacob Toppin and Chris Livingston, who had eight points apiece in the first half. Tshiebwe had six points, four rebounds (though no offensive rebounds) and three assists at the break.
KU held a four-point lead at the under-eight media stoppage. It was 64-62 KU following a bucket by UK’s Toppin at 5:11. Dick and Wilson hit threes, sandwiching a two by Tshiebwe, and KU led 70-64 at 4:11. Wilson hit a deep two to give KU a 75-68 lead at 1:49.
Kentucky 80, Kansas 62, Jan. 29, 2022, Lawrence: Keion Brooks scored 27 points and national player of the year Tshiebwe went for 17 points and 14 rebounds as the No. 12-ranked Wildcats blasted No. 5 KU.
Kellan Grady and Toppin scored 12 and 11 points respectively. Kentucky led 50-31 at halftime. Ochai Agbaji scored 10 points the second half and finished with 13 points. Christian Braun also had 13 points for the Jayhawks, who were outrebounded 41-29 including 12-7 on the offensive end.
“Their guys got to a level that we couldn’t get to,” Self said. “When you get into a jumping contest with those dudes, we couldn’t compete.”
Kansas 65, Kentucky 62, Dec. 1, 2020, Indianapolis, Indiana: Wilson scored 23 points and Agbaji 17 as the No. 7-ranked Jayhawks beat No. 20 Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Braun and Marcus Garrett scored eight points apiece for KU.
Kentucky was led by Davion Mintz and Brandon Boston, who scored 12 points apiece.
KU hit 20 of 67 shots (5-of-21 from three) for 29.9%. Kentucky was 22-of-61 shooting for 36.1% (3 of 21 threes).
Garrett, KU’s defensive stopper, played despite falling ill before the game.
“I knew Marcus was going to play,” Wilson said after the victory. “He’s a fighter, one of the hardest guys I’ve ever played basketball with.”
KU trailed 35-29 at halftime and rallied from a game-high deficit of 13 points.
Kentucky 71, Kansas 63, Jan. 26, 2019, Lexington, Kentucky: P.J. Washington scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to pace the No. 8-ranked Wildcats past No. 9 KU, in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
Reid Travis scored 18 points and corralled 12 rebounds while Keldon Johnson also posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.
KU’s Dedric Lawson recorded his NCAA-leading 14th double-double of the season (20 points, 15 rebounds).
Lawson scored 11 points and secured 11 rebounds in the first half as KU led by three at halftime. After Agbaji hit two free throws to tie the game at 44. UK went on an 8-0 run and did not trail down the stretch.
Freshman guard Quentin Grimes hit three threes and scored 13 points in his KU debut.
Kansas 65, Kentucky 61, Nov. 14, 2017, Chicago: Svi Mykhailiuk hit three 3s and scored 17 points and Devonté Graham converted the clinching free throws as No. 4 KU defeated No. 7 Kentucky at the Champions Classic. Udoka Azubuike scored 13 points, Malik Newman 12 and Graham 11 for KU. Kevin Knox hit three 3s and scored 20 points while Hamidou Diallo added 14 points for Kentucky.
Graham — he hit 3 of 14 shots and committed five turnovers — connected on two free throws with 7.1 seconds left.
KU announced prior to tipoff that freshman forward Billy Preston would not play because of an eligibility issue that wiped out his entire one-and-done season at Kansas.
Kansas 79, Kentucky 73, Jan. 28, 2017, Lexington: Frank Mason scored 21 points — 13 the second half — while Josh Jackson had 20 points and 10 rebounds to pace No. 2 KU past No. 4 UK in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. KU went 0-for-8 from 3 and trailed by 12 points late in the first half, then went 5-for-11 from beyond the arc the second half. Landen Lucas scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds while Graham had 12 points and seven boards. Malik Monk and Derek Willis scored 18 points apiece, while Isaiah Briscoe had 12 points and De’Aaron Fox 10 for UK.
Kentucky which trailed by 10 points with 4:41 left, cut the deficit to four points before Mykhailiuk’s two free throws at :16 assured victory.
Kansas 90, Kentucky 84, OT, Jan. 30, 2016, Lawrence: Wayne Selden scored 33 points, including seven in overtime and the No. 4-ranked Jayhawks held off the No. 20 Wildcats in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. “It’s as good a game as he’s played since he’s been here,” Self said of Selden.
Kentucky led by eight points midway through the second half before Self went to a zone defense. Perry Ellis made the second of two free throws to tie the game, 76-76, with nine seconds left in regulation and Tyler Ulis fumbled the ball at the other end before Kentucky could attempt a shot.
Mason scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Graham added 11 points for the Jayhawks. Ulis finished with a career-high 26 points and eight assists. Jamal Murray added 15 points. Alex Poythress had 13 and Briscoe 12.
Kentucky 72, Kansas 40, Nov. 18, 2014, Indianapolis: Top-ranked Kentucky routed the No. 5 Jayhawks in the Champions Classic despite having just two players score in double figures. Dakari Johnson scored 11 points and Andrew Harrison 10 while Willie Cauley-Stein added seven points and 10 rebounds. Selden led the Jayhawks with nine points. Cliff Alexander finished with eight. The Jayhawks made only 11 baskets — eight in the first half, three in the second. They shot just 19.6% from the field and were 3-of-15 on three-pointers.
Self called it a “beatdown right from the beginning.”
Kentucky 67, Kansas 59, April 2, 2012, New Orleans: Anthony Davis scored six points on 1-of-10 shooting with 16 rebounds and six blocks in the NCAA championship game. Doron Lamb, who scored 22 points, hit back-to-back three-pointers that put Kentucky up by 16 points with 10 minutes left. KU trailed by five with 1:37 left. But Kentucky made five free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Tyshawn Taylor scored 19 points, while Thomas Robinson had 18 points and 17 rebounds for KU.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 11 points the first half to give UK a 41-27 lead.
“I wanted everybody to see, we were the best team this season,” Calipari said. “We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages.”
Kentucky 75, Kansas 65, Nov. 15, 2011, New York: Lamb scored 17 points and Terrence Jones 15 in the No. 2-ranked Wildcats’ win over No. 12 KU at the Champions Classic. Davis contributed 14 points and blocked seven shots, while Kidd-Gilchrist had 12 points and nine boards. Kentucky blocked 13 shots and held the Jayhawks to 33.9% shooting. Taylor scored 22 points, while Robinson added 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 3:31 remaining.
“They had a will to win. That’s what I wanted to see,” Calipari said of his team. “That’s the hardest thing to teach in what we do, a will to win. This team seems to have that.”
Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT), April 7, 2008, San Antonio: KU, which trailed, 60-51, with 2:12 left in regulation, chipped away at the huge deficit and caught the Tigers, 63-63, on a three-pointer by Mario Chalmers with 2.1 seconds left. The Jayhawks rolled, 12-5 in overtime, to claim the NCAA title. “I had a good look at it. When it left my hands it felt like it was good, and it just went in,” Chalmers said of what has been called the biggest shot in school history.
Noted Calipari: “Ten seconds to go, we’re thinking we’re national champs, all of a sudden a kid makes a shot and we’re not.”
Memphis 77, Illinois 74, Dec. 28, 2002, Memphis: Chris Massie scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his first game of the season as unranked Memphis held off Self’s No. 7-ranked Illinois team. Before beating Illinois, Memphis had suffered 14 straight losses to teams in the top 25. Illinois was the first top 25 team to play at the Memphis Pyramid since Calipari joined the Tigers for the 2000-01 season. Brian Cook led Illinois with 21 points and Dee Brown had 19.
“I do remember it was my third year at Illinois. I think they beat us in a real close game in Memphis. I know they won. I don’t remember the score,” Self said.