By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky figured to need PJ Washington and Reid Travis to play big against Kansas — and they did.
Washington had 20 points and 13 rebounds while Travis had 18 points and 12 rebounds in UK’s 71-63 win over No. 9 Kansas in front of a raucous Rupp Arena crowd of 24,387 fans. Maybe it was only fitting that he blocked a shot by Dedric Lawson to end the game, his second block of the game.
“I cherish even more playing against PJ Washington. He is like a little brother to me,” Lawson said. “Travis is more of a back to the basket and wants to be physical. PJ is more finesse. I knew he loved to jab. But both of them are great players.
“Definitely tough playing against two bigs like that. They threw a lot of bodies at me and they shrunk the floor. We play a small ball lineup. It is something you have to step up to the plate and not make excuses and get it done.”
It was No. 8 UK’s third straight win over a ranked opponent and sixth straight win overall. It was also the fourth time in the last five games Kentucky held an opponent under 40 percent shooting (23 of 63).
Kentucky dominated scoring in the paint (38-20) despite Dedric Lawson having 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Jayhawks. Kentucky had 17 offensive rebounds, including seven by Lawson.
Keldon Johnson also had a big second half for Kentucky. After going 2-for-6 from the field with only four points in the first half, he finished the game with 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting and had a double-double with 10 rebounds himself. He made three 3-pointers in the second half after UK went 0-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half.
It was the first time UK had three players with a double-double since 2010 when John Wall, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins pulled off that feat.
Point guard Ashton Hagans was close to a double-double, too, with 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting and seven assists. He also had another game with three steals.
“We made shots the second half and it made a big difference,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “PJ was unbelievable. He’s one of the best in the country. I thought Reid fought like crazy.”
Kentucky was actually fortunate to just be down 33-30 at halftime with Johnson and Tyler Herro a combined 3-for-12 from the field, especially since the Cats were down by 10 points at one time after a 12-0 Kansas run.
Travis had 11 points — including seven straight at one point — and six rebounds and Washington had six points and nine rebounds as Kentucky outscored Kansas 26-14 in the paint in the first half. Lawson had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas.