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Moments That Popped: KU gets redemption in Sunflower Showdown

14th-ranked Jayhawks knock off Kansas State 90-68 in home finale at Allen Fieldhouse

5 min read
KU senior Kevin McCullar Jr. celebrates a 3-pointer early on in the 90-68 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse. [Chance Parker photo]

The Kansas men's basketball team put an end to a 2-game losing streak with a convincing, 90-68 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

The win came in the final home game of the season for the Jayhawks, who improved to 22-8 overall and 10-7 in Big 12 play.


It also came in the final game for Allen Fieldhouse as we know it. Starting Thursday, the Fieldhouse will be closed for renovations and is not expected to open again until October. When it does, upgrades will be everywhere, from the concourses, concession stands and restrooms to the court and sound system.

The overall feel of the building will remain in tact, but it's still important to note these significant milestones to a play that's as precious and revered as Allen Fieldhouse.

As for Tuesday's game, it was ugly for a while — both ways — but the Jayhawks turned an 8-point halftime edge into a blowout win with a strong second half. KU was good on offense in the second half, but the Jayhawks' defense had K-State completely out of sorts for the duration of the final 20 minutes.

Kevin McCullar Jr. led KU with 19 points and walk-ons Patrick Cassidy and Michael Jankovich (who started) both scored in the final minute of the game.

Next up, the Jayhawks will head to Houston for the regular season finale on Saturday at 3 p.m. against the No. 1 team in the nation.

After that, it’s on to the postseason, where KU will begin play at the Big 12 tournament in a very unfamiliar position. Seeds won’t be finalized until the games are completed on Saturday, but KU is likely to be in the 4-5-6 range as opposed to the stranglehold they’ve had on the 1 seed for most of Self’s time in charge of the program.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and memorable moments from the Jayhawks’ Senior Night win over K-State on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.


• Put 'em away: It's been a problem for this team this season, as a handful of the Jayhawks' conference losses have come after owning double-digit leads on their opponents. There was no such issue in this one. Once KU got up big, they put their foot down and never let up. Kansas outscored Kansas State 49-35 in the second half and the Wildcats (17-13, 7-10) never had a shot to get back into the game.

• Timberlake makes FOUR(!): He still struggled with his defensive assignments and got lost a couple times out there, but midway through the second half, during an 8-0 KU run that blew the game open, KU senior Nick Timberlake hit a pair of 3-pointers — 2 in a row for him — to put Kansas up 58-41 with 12:34 to play in the game. Before the night was over, the senior had drained four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting on the night. It’s so clear after each make how much weight comes off of Timberlake’s shoulders. But don’t count him out just yet. Numbers tend to have a way of evening themselves out. Especially over something as long as the course of a college basketball season. If he truly is a career 40% shooter from 3-point range, he could be in for an impressive finish down the stretch. And if that happens — IF! — he could be a difference maker for the Jayhawks in the postseason.

• Defense before halftime: It was set up perfectly for a defensive breakdown, only this time Kansas came through. Leading 41-33 in the final 20 seconds of the half, KU dug in on defense and turned away K-State's final attempt at points before the half. Instead of giving up a 3-pointer after a bad close-out or unnecessary collapse from the wing into the paint, the Jayhawks got a block from Hunter Dickinson on the final possession before halftime and took that 8-point lead and all kinds of momentum into the locker room.  

• Senior Night reds: Somewhere Devonte’ Graham was smiling. It’s been a tradition for a while now, but I’ll never forget how happy former KU point guard Devonte’ Graham was to finally be able to talk Self into allowing them to wear red on Senior Night back in 2018. KU won that game in 2018 and has done very well ever since. In fact, the Jayhawks have now won 40 consecutive Senior Night games, dating back to the 1983-84 season.

• Pregame love: The speeches were nice, but all seven KU seniors were honored on the floor before the game, and that was the coolest moment of the night. The crowd was into it, showering all seven guys with love and loudness throughout the ceremony and the families on the floor with the players were loving every second, too. Even though Senior Night has a different feel in the transfer portal era, moments like this remind you of how cool these moments are for these players and their families.


• So physical, no whistles: In the game’s first two minutes, Self was already in a heated discussion with an official during free throw, presumably about the timing of the calls and when the contact first occurred. Not long after that, KJ Adams bumped a K-State player on his way through the lane and forced an off-balance shot that missed. From there, it was the Kansas State bench that threw its arms up in protest of the no-call. That was not the only time tang was heated. Midway through the first half, he went on another rant during a timeout, spending the entire timeout wearing out the same official about a no-call a couple of minutes earlier. Here’s the funny thing about the coaches complaining: There were 31 free throws shot and 21 fouls called in a very lonnnnnng first half.

• KJ Adams can't catch a break: Whether it was foul trouble, no-calls, shots rolling off the rim or just the general flow of the action overall, KJ Adams did not get many breaks on Tuesday night. That all changed, midway through the second half, though, when he took matters into his own hands, crossed over his man well above the 3-point line and drove untouched through the lane for an easy but impressive twisting layup. Later, with a little less than 10 minutes to play in the game, Adams found a cure for the missed bunnies — he started jumping over everybody and finishing with vicious dunks. The lob he finished on a dime from Dajuan Harris to put KU up 65-45 might’ve been the highest he has jumped this season. Adams finished with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including — get this — a 6-for-6 clip at the free throw line.

What The?

• 20 boards again: It remains to be seen if this was Hunter Dickinson's last home game at Kansas or if he has a whole bunch more. The guess here is that he'll be back next season. But if this was it, he finished with a hell of a line, including 20 rebounds for the third time this season.

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