Few people are more excited for the latest showdown between Kansas and Kentucky than Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves.
The top-ranked Jayhawks and No. 17 Kentucky are facing off Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in Chicago, which is Reeves’ hometown.
“I can’t wait,” Reeves said. “I am definitely looking forward to that game, just to see where we’re at. I feel like we’re going to do really big things and these freshmen are ready. I’m very excited to play (in Chicago). I can’t wait. I’ve got a lot of people coming.
“It’s going to be a big game so we have to show what we can do.”
Kansas has won five of the past seven meetings between the blueblood programs, including an impressive 77-68 road win in Lexington in January of last season. Reeves scored 10 points in the setback.
The teams are back at it nearly 10 months later, and after the Jayhawks (2-0) won their first two games by an average of 40.5 points and the Wildcats (2-0) won their two by an average of 30.
Kansas coach Bill Self isn’t focused on winning margins with his team entering its first true clash of the season.
“It’ll be a totally different animal than what we’ve experienced so far,” Self said. “But yeah, we’ll be very excited about it. I know that both programs will as will both sets of players and it should be a lot of fun.”
The Jayhawks scored 99 points in each of their first two games — blowout wins over North Carolina Central and Manhattan.
Big man Hunter Dickinson, a transfer from Michigan, is leading Kansas with averages of 19.5 points and eight rebounds. Kevin McCullar Jr. is contributing 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and KJ Adams Jr. is averaging 13 points on 81.3 percent shooting (13 of 16).
Five Jayhawks scored in double digits in Friday’s 99-61 home win over Manhattan. Kansas shot 56.7 percent from the field.
“We’re super athletic,” McCullar said. “You look at our roster, you have a lot of guys that can make a lot of different plays. We’ve got guys that can make high-impact plays and that gives us energy and life when we’re playing at home.”
Kentucky is coming off Friday’s 81-61 home victory over Texas A&M-Commerce. Reeves scored 21 points to pace five Wildcats in double digits. Tre Mitchell added 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals, and Justin Edwards had 16 points and seven boards.
Kentucky had just three turnovers but coach John Calipari wasn’t all that impressed with the low number of miscues.
“We play a basketball game. Would you say we played pretty fast?” Calipari said. “Folks, we had three turnovers. Now I’m wondering if we’re not being aggressive enough. How the heck do you end the game with three turnovers? That’s, like, ridiculous.
“We made some bad decisions, guys running up the middle trying to throw it to them. It didn’t end up in a turnover but there were probably four or five plays that easily could have.”
Reeves leads Kentucky in scoring average (16.0 points per game) and with seven 3-pointers. Mitchell also is off to a good start with averages of 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds.
But three freshmen are showing early promise by scoring in double digits — Rob Dillingham is averaging 14.5 points, Edwards is putting up 14 per game and D.J. Wagner is contributing 12 per outing.
The Wildcats lead the series, 24-11.
–Field Level Media