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No. 2 Kansas rallies past No. 4 Kentucky in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Kansas’ Josh Jackson  looks for an opening on Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox during the second half Saturday  in Lexington, Kentucky. (James Crisp / Associated Press)
Kansas’ Josh Jackson looks for an opening on Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox during the second half Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky. (James Crisp / Associated Press)
By Gary B. Graves Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Frank Mason III scored 21 points, Josh Jackson had 20 points and a pair of big 3-pointers and No. 2 Kansas rallied past No. 4 Kentucky 79-73 on Saturday night in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

The Challenge’s marquee matchup between college basketball’s two winningest programs ended with the Jayhawks earning their second straight win over the Wildcats on Kentucky’s home floor. Three-point shooting was critical for Kansas (19-2) as it shook off a 0-for-8 first half to make 5 of 11 after halftime, with Jackson’s consecutive 3s starting things for the Jayhawks. They shot 59 percent in the second half.

Mason had 13 second-half points and Landen Lucas contributed 13 points – including a layup with 4:41 remaining for a 69-59 lead – and five rebounds before fouling out. Jackson also had 10 rebounds.

Malik Monk and Derek Willis each had 18 points for Kentucky (17-4), which dropped its second straight.

Unfazed by first-half perimeter woes, the Jayhawks made their first three attempts from long range to change the momentum. They also forced 17 turnovers for 21 points. Devonte’ Graham had 12 points, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk provided a big lift in place of suspended forward Carlton Bragg Jr., scoring eight points.

This was Kansas’ first game since coach Bill Self acknowledged Thursday that police are investigating an alleged rape at the team’s dormitory.

The Wildcats don’t lose often at Rupp Arena, but they now have two home defeats this season, both in marquee games against ranked teams – they lost to now-No. 8 UCLA in December.

Kansas’ gutsy win in a tough environment might be enough to convince some poll voters to put the Jayhawks on top. Kentucky figures to drop several spots with a home loss following an SEC defeat at mid-pack Tennessee.

The Jayhawks have a few days to savor this win before hosting No. 5 Baylor on Wednesday night in a battle of the Big 12’s top two teams. Iowa State comes in next Saturday.

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