Kentucky heads to Chicago to take on the Jayhawks


Redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo celebrates after hitting a three during the game against Utah Valley on Sunday, November 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 73-69. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

Pranavdeep Singh

John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats (2-0) are beginning this week with a big challenge after opening the season with back-to-back home games as they travel to Chicago to face Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks (1-0) on Nov. 14th.

The last two meetings between the teams have been breathtaking games, with the Jayhawks winning both times. The most recent win took place last season, when Kansas won 79-73 in Rupp Arena.

This game will feature some of the best recruits from the last couple of years. Kansas comes into this game with Malik Newman, a redshirt sophomore and a top-10 recruit from the 2015 class who transferred from Mississippi State.

Unable to play last year due to the NCAA transfer rules, he averaged 11.3 points while shooting 38 percent from three when last seen in action playing for the Bulldogs two years ago. Newman is an extremely athletic and explosive player who was seen as the best scorer in his recruiting class.

Another player to look out for is junior guard Devonte’ Graham, who is looking to take over the leadership role and the offensive load after the departure of Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III. Graham was third on the team in scoring last season with 13.4 points per game behind Jackson and Mason, and first in threes made with 94.

The Jayhawks also have two top big men in Billy Preston and Udoka Azubuike. Preston is a physical power forward who can handle the rock and can step out and hit the three.

Azubuike is a big, physical center who is a rebounding machine with a 7-5 wingspan.

The Cats aren’t short on recruits either, with Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington leading another strong recruiting class by Calipari. This year, the Cats have four of the top-15 recruits in the nation according to 247Sports Composite’s rankings, which includes guys like Hamidou Diallo, Jarred Vanderbilt, Knox and Washington.

Knox is regarded as an excellent defender and rebounder who can guard multiple positions and as a fluid athlete who has the ability to finish above the rim.

Washington is a distinguished shot-blocker as well as a solid rebounder next to Knox. Diallo, considered as the best athlete from this recruiting class, is explosive around the rim and not afraid of contact. 

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Jayhawks a 69.1 percent chance to win as of Sunday evening. The game tips off at 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday at the United Center and will be broadcast on ESPN.