Dakari Johnson scored 11 points, Andrew Harrison had 10 and No. 1 Kentucky used a dominant defense to blow out No. 4 Kansas 72-40 in Tuesday night’s Champions Classic.
The Wildcats (3-0) shot just 43.1 percent from the field, but they were so good on defense that it didn’t matter. Kansas (1-1) shot just 19.6 percent from the field and was 15 for 27 at the line in the storied program’s worst offensive performance since a 61-45 loss to Kentucky on Dec. 1, 1998.
Wayne Selden Jr. had nine points for the Jayhawks, and Cliff Alexander finished with eight.
The Wildcats led by as much as 35-17 in the first half. After Kansas closed to 38-28 at the half, Kentucky opened the second half with six straight points and continued extending the lead throughout the second half.
Kentucky has now won its first three games by 40, 19 and 32 points. But Tuesday’s victory was easily the most impressive of the three and helped reinforce the image that last season’s national championship runner-ups could be good enough to go undefeated this season. The last men’s team with a perfect season was Indiana in 1975-76.
The Jayhawks shot just 24.2 percent in the first half. They were nearly twice as bad in the second half, when they made only 3 of 23 shots — 13.0 percent.
And the Wildcats never let up. After extending the lead to 55- 36 with 10: 28 to go, Kentucky went on a 9-0 run to make it 64-36. Kansas didn’t even crack the 40-point mark until the final minutes.
Kansas had only been held to fewer than 50 points one other time in coach Bill Self’s tenure — a 61-49 loss to Arizona on Nov. 21, 2005.
Kentucky: The Wildcats now have a 16-game lead over second-place Kansas for the most wins in college basketball. Kentucky has 2,143 all-time wins and has won in three different buildings in downtown Indianapolis — the RCA Dome, Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Kansas: The Jayhawks may argue for a different draw in next year’s classic draw. They lost to Kentucky in this event in 2011 and to the Wildcats in the 2012 national championship game.
Kentucky hosts Boston University on Friday.