Utah vs. Kansas final score: 3 things we learned in the Jayhawks’ 63-60 victory
The Jayhawks were on the ropes, but outlasted Utah at the end to earn a huge victory.
Kansas seemed to be on the verge of one of the biggest collapses of the season. The Jayhawks led Utah by 21 at one point in the second half, but the Utes stormed back to take the lead with under five minutes remaining. Kansas wasn’t to be denied, though, with some clutch free throw shooting and timely defense keying a 63-60 win.
Kansas went into halftime up 18 points, using a 23-2 run to open up a huge lead. In the second half, Kansas’ offense fell apart. Senior guard Delon Wright dominated on both ends of the floor for Utah, and Jayhawks were on the ropes in front of a home crowd at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The game went down to the final possession, but Kansas’ great free throw shooting (21-of-23 from the free throw line) was enough to ice the victory.
Forwards Perry Ellis (14 points) and Jamari Traylor (13 points) led the Jayhawks. It was also the best game of Kelly Oubre’s young career. The freshman wing and former McDonald’s All-American scored nine points off the bench.
The No. 13 Utes were led by Wright, who continued a strong season with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals on 9-of-1e shooting. He was too big and too athletic for the Jayhawks backcourt all afternoon.
Here are three things we learned from Kansas’ victory.
1. Kansas knows how to win ugly
The Jayhawks were embarrassed early the season against Kentucky, when the Wildcats blocked as many shots (11) as Kansas had field goals. Since then, Bill Self’s team has found a way to get some tough wins and quality competition. Kansas has run through a tough non-conference slate that included wins over Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown and now Utah.
It wasn’t always pretty for the Jayhawks, but you can’t argue with an 8-1 record.
2. Utah’s tough non-conference schedule is paying off
A year ago, Utah missed the NCAA Tournament largely because it played one of the softest non-conference schedules in the country. Not anymore. Utah is now 3-1 in marquee non-conference games, beating Wichita State and BYU and only dropping a close game to San Diego State before this tight loss to No. 10 Kansas.
The Utes aren’t missing the tournament this year. The only question is how far they can go. Right now, Larry Krystkowiak’s team is playing at a Sweet 16 level, if not better.
3. Utah will be even better when Jordan Loveridge returns
Utah’s 6’6 junior forward is one of the best players on the team, but he’s sidelined now after a minor knee surgery. Loveridge will be back during conference play, and when he returns the Utes are going to be even tougher. Last season, Loveridge was Utah’s co-star next to Delon Wright, averaging 14.8 points and seven rebounds per game. With the ascension of the freshman Jakob Poerltl, Loveridge’s inside-outside game will make Utah’s offense even more dynamic.