Kansas Suffers 80-61 Defeat in SEC/Big 12 Challenge


LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 15 Kansas fell behind early wasn’t able to recover against No. 18 Tennessee, falling 80-61, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge inside Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday.

The loss brings KU to 4-2 against Tennessee all-time, while making the Jayhawks 5-3 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and 9-5 in conference challenges dating back to 2007.

Kansas falls to 11-6 (5-4 Big 12), while Tennessee improves to 12-3 (5-3 SEC) on the season.

Kansas struggled to find baskets early, which allowed Tennessee to jump out to a first-half lead. At the break, Tennessee led, 40-26, giving Kansas its largest halftime deficit of the season.

Out of the break, the Volunteers extended their lead, leading by as many as 26 in the second half. Tennessee did not let up down the stretch, handing Kansas just its second non-conference loss of the season.

The Jayhawks were led by three players in double figures, including a team high 17 points from David McCormack. Marcus Garrett also scored in double figures with 15 points, followed by Jalen Wilson with 10 points.

Kansas shot 38% (20-of-53) from the field, while Tennessee shot 53% (28-of-53) and 62% (8-of-13) from beyond the arc.


  • Kansas’ loss made them 11-6 overall, its first 11-6 record since the 2005-06 season when KU was also 11-6.
  • The Jayhawks fall to 5-3 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and 9-5 in conference challenges dating back to 2007.
  • Kansas is now 4-4 against ranked foes in 2020-21.
  • Kansas trailed 40-26 at halftime, the largest halftime deficit KU faced this season. The Jayhawks trailed by 13, 41-28 against Baylor on January 18.
  • After starting 0-15 from beyond the arc, Kansas finished the game shooting 6-of-24 (25%) from beyond the arc.
  • Junior Ochai Agbaji made his 64th-consecutive start on Saturday, starting all 17 games this season.
  • Junior David McCormack scored 17 points on 8-of-12 from the field on Saturday, registering his 22nd career game in double figures scoring and his eighth this season.

Kansas returns to Big 12 play when Kansas State comes to Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. (CT) on Big 12 NOW on ESPN+ for the Dillons Sunflower Showdown.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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