INDIANAPOLIS – Kansas got knocked down Tuesday night. Bill Self insists they're not out of it yet.
No. 1 Kentucky used a dominating defense to rattle the fifth-ranked Jayhawks and pulled away for a stunning 72-40 victory at the State Farm Champions Classic. Afterward, Self was, well, not his usually low-key self in critiquing his team.
"Individually we're not good enough to go out and play against guys like that," the Jayhawks coach said. "We have to become a team and we're not close to becoming a team yet."
Self acknowledged he's already seen signs of potential problems in practice.
If his players didn't understand what he meant then, they certainly should after reading the box score.
They finished with 11 total baskets — eight in the first half, three in the second. They shot just 19.6 percent from the field and were only 3 of 15 on 3-pointers. The 40-point total was the lowest since Self took over as coach in 2003-04, easily falling below the previous mark of 49 against Arizona in November 2005. And they barely avoided becoming the first Kansas team to finish with fewer than 40 points in a game since February 1962 when they had 37 against Oklahoma State.
Wayne Selden Jr. led Kansas with nine points and Cliff Alexander had eight.
And it was every bit as bad as the score indicated.
"It's OK to hurt and they're embarrassed, obviously, we all are for not putting up more of a fight," Self said after taking a sip of water and joking he needed something a little stronger. "But it's too early in the season (to get discouraged)."
For Kentucky (3-0), it reinforced the point that last year's national runner-up is this year's best team.
After winning its first two games by 40 and 19 points, the Wildcats dominated Kansas despite having only two players reach double figures. Dakari Johnson had 11 points, Andrew Harrison had 10 and Willie Cauley-Stein finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.
But they didn't need big-time scorers Tuesday.
"We kind of bum-rushed them a little bit and every time they looked there were more tanks coming over the hill," Calipari said. "It wasn't substitutes, it was reinforcements. It kind of gets to you a little bit. "
Kentucky took advantage of Kansas' errant shots and never let up.
The Wildcats jumped to a 35-17 lead with 3:06 left in the first half, then allowed Kansas to close within 38-28 at the half. Kentucky then started the second half with six straight points, didn't allow a basket for almost six minutes, then extended the lead to 64-36 with and continued pulling away.
Kansas finally cracked the 40-point mark when Perry Ellis made two free throws with 2:53 left, but Kansas didn't score again.
"They (Kentucky) are pretty good for this early in the season," said Self, who beat Calipari in the 2008 national championship game. "One thing I would say that would be challenging for them, and this is a compliment to them, right now they're so far ahead where other people are, but other teams have a tendency to get better, too, and there will be teams out there who can challenge them. Whether they can beat them or not, I don't know."
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.
Kansas faces Rider on Monday in the Orlando Classic.
Though the Wildcats didn't have a scoring star Tuesday, they did take advantage of their size. Kentucky outscored Kansas 30-12 in the paint and 19-9 on second chance points. They also grabbed 32 defensive rebounds off of Kansas' 53 missed shots. But Calipari isn't convinced this is Kentucky's best effort. "''No, we're not that good. Next question," Calipari said as his opening statement.
Kansas can't blame all of its offensive troubles on Kentucky's defense. Yes, the Jayhawks only had 11 turnovers. But they also went 15 of 27 from the free-throw line.