The Kansas Jayhawks added to their Border War winning streak on Saturday with a 73-64 home win over visiting Missouri in front of a wild fan base at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas has now won four straight — five if you count the exhibition game for hurricane relief in 2017 — dating back to the final meeting of the 2011-12 season.
Fittingly, the man that willed Kansas to that 2011-12 win, Thomas Robinson, was in the building to have his jersey retired in this one.
Kevin McCullar Jr. and KJ Adams led KU with 17 points apiece and Hunter Dickinson found a way to carve out a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds.
The win moved Kansas to 9-1 on the season.
Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and memorable moments from Saturday’s Border War win over the Tigers.
Next up, KU has a week off and will travel to Indiana next Saturday to take on the Hoosiers at 11:30 a.m. on CBS.
• KJ’s block: You know which one I’m talking about. After a pass by Harris hit off of Dickinson’s hands and face, the Tigers came out with the ball and threw it ahead to Anthony Robinson II, who appeared to have a breakaway dunk or layup. But Adams, sprinting hard from mid-court, chased him down and violently rejected the shot off the glass to take the possession the other way for the Jayhawks. After the block, which happened right in front of me, Adams stood on the baseline and roared and vibed with the crowd, which was in an absolute frenzy. The hustle play led to a three-point play for Dickinson on the other end and pushed KU’s lead to 14 instead of cutting it to 9 and giving Mizzou some momentum.
• KU’s poise (big picture): Although their scattered start led directly to Mizzou leading for most of the first half, you never got the sense that Kansas was panicking. Instead, the Jayhawks stayed calm, stuck to their plan and tried to execute it. It didn’t always work, of course. And both KU and MU had plenty to do with that. But had they panicked, Mizzou’s largest first-half lead of nine (15-6) might well have been into the middle teens or higher. The KU poise allowed the Jayhawks to stay within a couple of possessions even when things weren’t going well and that made the climb out of that early hole much easier to manage. By halftime, the Jayhawks actually led by a dozen, showing that their ability to stay composed paid off in a big way with a 20-2 stretch to close the first half.
• Furphy on the glass: After checking in for the first time early in the first half, the KU freshman made his presence felt immediately by getting on the offensive glass. Furphy’s so long and so athletic that he’s a great candidate to do a ton of damage in that area the rest of the season. And he probably will the more comfortable he gets. He was limited to XX minutes in this one because of some bad-luck whistles that saddled him with foul trouble and took him out of the game. But while he was out there, he made it known by the way he actively pursued KU’s misses. His 4 rebounds were the most by a Jayhawk not named Dickinson or McCullar in this one.
• The atmosphere, duh: You knew this one was going to be intense and it certainly was. From the lines outside and pregame buzz to the chants in the stands before tip-off and the deafening roar during the KU introductions and just before tipoff — the decibel meter on the video board reached 125.2 — the Allen Fieldhouse fans were fired up for this one. The Jayhawks didn’t give the home crowd a ton to cheer about in the early going, but any time they threatened to take control or blow the game open, the crowd responded exactly as you would expect it to do. No matter how evenly matched these teams are or aren’t, Saturday’s atmosphere is exactly why this game is worth playing. There’s just nothing that can top the excitement of getting ready for a Border War, both in Lawrence and Columbia.
• T-Rob jersey ceremony: At halftime of Saturday’s game, KU legend Thomas Robinson had his No. 0 jersey retired into the Allen Fieldhouse rafters with a cool ceremony at the break. Joined by his family, his younger sister Jayla and Angel Morris, Robinson spoke from the heart, flashed his signature T-Rob smile and talked about what both Kansas and the moment at hand meant to him. After thanking his teammates, family and coaches, Robinson turned to “my Kansas family,” whom he told, “I just want to be honest. I love you guys to death. Without you, my life would not be what it is and I wouldn’t be going into the rafters today without you all.” Sandwiched between Marcus Morris and Max Falkenstein in the southwest corner of the Fieldhouse, Robinson’s name and number will now live forever with some of the greatest names and players to ever come through KU.
• Tight and tense to start: The Jayhawks missed bunnies, turned it over, struggled to match Mizzou’s energy and couldn’t buy a bucket in the game’s first 10 minutes. All of it wreaked of a team and a bunch of players pressing a little too hard to get off to a perfect start. As a result, you could see a lot of frustration on several KU faces and the more the Tigers saw that the more their confidence grew. As soon as the Jayhawks took the lead, they looked much more like themselves, playing fast and with purpose on both ends in building an 18-point lead (54-36) before holding on through some up-and-down play in the second half.
• More struggles by the KU bench: Johnny Furphy had a couple of big moments in the first half and former Tiger Parker Braun had a couple of big blocks. But other than that, the Jayhawks didn’t get much consistent production from their bench yet again. So much so that, at one point, late in the second half, Kansas coach Bill Self played musical chairs with that fifth spot, yanking Elmarko Jackson after a poor shot choice only to put Jackson back in after Jamari McDowell misfired on two shots on consecutive possessions. One of the shots was a rhythm 3-pointer. The other was a little forced and early in the shot clock. There’s a chance that someone will emerge as the most reliable option for that 5th spot before too long. But no matter who it is, the Jayhawks’ bench continues to have a long way to go and could remain a concern for most of the season.
• Hunter’s (relatively) quiet night down low: Kansas struggled to play through big man Hunter Dickinson for much of Saturday’s game. A big part of that was the way Missouri played him. The Tigers doubled him or kept another body behind him, lurking nearby, whenever he tried to catch the ball or fought for post position. That turned the KU big man into more of a facilitator than anything else and he was forced to do a lot of his scoring damage off of missed shots by teammates and put-backs at the rim. He did that well, grabbing 16 boards with 5 coming on the offensive end. While we’ve become accustomed to seeing Dickinson dominate down low with his size and skill, what we saw Saturday is probably going to be what he sees the rest of the way. Teams are going to surround him with athletes and force him to give up the ball instead of letting him score at point-blank range in the post. That makes KU’s outside shooting even more critical. The Jayhawks shot 3-of-10 from 3-point range in this one.
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