Kentucky will play Kansas in the 2020 Champions Classic in Indianapolis this year although they were supposed to play in Orlando, that idea was scratched before the season even began. The Cats are 23-9 against Kansas; they first played each other December 16, 1950 and last played each other January 26, 2019.
Kentucky is looking to bounce back after their 76-64 loss to experienced Richmond, but can this young Wildcat team go up against a Kansas team, who lost to #1 Gonzaga to start the season, a 102-90 loss and bounced back to defeat St. Joe’s the next day 94-72. So Kentucky and Kansas both start the season with a 1-1 record right before the Champions Classic. Both of these teams showed their strength and weaknesses in their first two games. As said before, Kentucky dominated Morehead State in their season opener but lost to now #19th ranked Richmond, the Cats took a tumble in the AP Top 25 and dropped down to #20.
The Jayhawks are lead by scoring this year by sophomore guard Christian Braun who is averaging 19 ppg and hit 7 for 11 from deep this season, so Christian will be a good test to see just how Kentucky’s perimeter defense is. Other players to keep an eye out on are junior Ochai Agbaji and senior Marcus Garrett, who is one of the best defensive players in the USA. The Jayhawks lack of front court depth is one of the reasons that Kansas has struggled defensively, so punishing Kansas in the paint is one way of the Cat’s best strategy in defeating the Jayhawks.
Freshman BJ Boston seems to leading the Cats in scoring with 17.5 ppg, behind him are fellow freshman Terrance Clarke and transfer Olivier Sarr, with 13.5 and 12.5 ppg respectively. The Cats have shown us that they can be an elite team on defense that they have length and the athleticism, but on the other hand they lack focus and communication in the game with Richmond, along with offense, in which Olivier Sarr looked comfortable with his role, but he made a few mistakes in Sunday’s game.
If Kentucky can figure out and learn from their mistakes and adjust then they won’t have a problem defeating Kansas, but if they struggle like they did on Sunday, it may be another loss. I’m not counting these Cats out just yet. But they’re going to have to stay on it the entire 40 minutes and not let up or Kansas is going to come out with the win.
You can catch this blue blood versus blue blood matchup on ESPN this Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.