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

LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 15 Kansas fell behind early and 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.