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Moments That Popped: No. 1 Kansas 83, Chaminade 56

Another triple-double for Kevin McCullar Jr. & a second-straight monster effort by KU big man Hunter Dickinson

5 min read
Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr. pushes the ball up the floor during the Jayhawks' Maui Invitational win over Chaminade on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. [Kansas Athletics photo]

It wasn’t always pretty, but No. 1 Kansas locked in when it needed to and took care of host school Chaminade in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Monday, 83-56.

Monday’s game was played in Honolulu, at the University of Hawaii, because of the fire that devastated the community of Lahaina on the island of Maui earlier this year.

Hunter Dickinson led the Jayhawks with 31 points and 11 rebounds and senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. recorded an unfathomable second straight triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Jayhawks also recorded 29 assists — two more than their season average per game — on 36 made baskets.

Next up, No. 1 Kansas will take on No. 4 Marquette, which stormed back and hung on to knock off UCLA, 71-69 in Monday's final game.

Kansas and Marquette will tip off Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. (central) in the Maui Invitational semifinals.

Here’s a look back at some of the other action from the Maui opener.


• Furphy gets first start: It came because of unfortunate circumstances, but freshman wing Johnny Furphy joined the KU starting lineup for the first time in his career in place of KJ Adams, who recently lost his mother to cancer. Adams was in Honolulu on Monday night and did play. But he did not travel with the team and instead traveled to the islands on Monday with the rest of his family. Although the difference between the style Adams brings and Furphy brings is very noticeable, the young fella showed some of his strengths during his first few minutes on the floor in this one. Most notably, he went to the offensive glass and utilized his length and athleticism. Furphy finished with 4 points and 2 rebounds on 2-of-5 shooting in 17 minutes.

• KJ plays: KJ Adams checked into the game to a standing ovation from the KU crowd with 14:14 to play in the first half of Monday’s game. This fan base has loved KJ for a while now. But the love they’ll show him — and he’ll feel — in the weeks and months ahead will be unlike anything he’s experienced and only matched by what we saw a decade ago when Thomas Robinson’s mom, Lisa, died during the middle of that season. With his father, Kevin Sr., and sisters sitting right behind the KU bench, Adams finished with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting, with 1 rebound and 4 assists in 26 minutes.

• Inside-Out a thing of beauty: These Jayhawks have talked all year about how unselfish this roster is. Nothing shows that better than those possessions when the KU offense shows enough poise and patience to give Hunter Dickinson a touch in the paint before looking for anything else. KU’s first option on most plays, and for most reasons, of course, is always to throw it into Dickinson to see if he can get an easy bucket. But he hasn’t shown himself to be one who forces it if it’s not there. Midway through Monday’s first half, Adams lobbed a pass into Dickinson, who caught it among three Chaminade defenders and immediately zipped it to the corner to Nick Timberlake behind the 3-point line. Rather than firing up a shot, Timberlake made an extra pass to his right, where Dajuan Harris Jr. was waiting to step into a wide-open 3-pointer, which he buried to give KU an 18-7 lead. Dickinson didn’t get the assist, but his vision was featured on the play and you could see why he’s been praised so much for his passing ability. Later in the first half, Dickinson was on the receiving end of that unselfishness, when Adams had an easy jump hook from 5 feet available to him but instead flipped a lob to Dickinson charging toward the basket from the left side for the highlight alley-oop.

• How the bracket fell: KU’s victory, along with No. 7 Tennessee and No. 2 Purdue winning earlier in the day on the other half of the bracket, guarantees that the Jayhawks will get two monster tests in their final two games in Hawaii. First up, they’ll play No. 4 Marquette, a 71-69 winner over UCLA in Monday’s late game. After that, they’ll either play the Tennessee-Purdue winner in the title game or the Tennessee-Purdue loser for third place. No matter how it plays out, those are going to be some big-time games. But there’s little doubt that the dream matchup for the tournament and for college basketball would be KU and Dickinson against Purdue and reigning national player of the year Zach Edey in Wednesday’s title game, which is slated for 4 p.m. central time.


• Defensive rebounding early: Chaminade showed right away that it was willing to compete with the top-ranked Jayhawks even though they were overmatched at pretty much every position. One of the ways they did that best was on the offensive glass. Granted, you have to miss shots to be effective on the offensive boards, and Chaminade did both, out-rebounding KU 4-1 on the offensive glass in the early going, which helped CU stay within as little as five points late in the first half. For the game, Chaminade out-rebounded KU 8-7 on the offensive glass, which obviously wound up being a pretty meaningless stat but it likely will be one that KU coach Bill Self uses from time to time moving forward.

• Uniforms, yay or nay?: These were the same jerseys KU won in the scrimmage at Illinois, which was put on as a fund-raiser for the Maui relief effort. And whether you like them or not is entirely up to you. All blue with red and white piping, the Kansas jerseys featured light-blue flowers to give the look of a Hawaiian shirt. Whether you liked them or not, their presence had a purpose we can all get behind. Each jersey will be auctioned off, along with several other college basketball-related packages, gear and experiences, with all proceeds going to benefit the folks in Maui. To check out what’s available or put a bid on your favorite Jayhawk’s Hawaiian-style KU jersey, check out this auction site.


• Kevin McCullar Jr. does the unthinkable: A second consecutive triple-double when there had only been three officially recorded in KU history is incredible stuff. Sure, it came against Chaminade. And, yeah, because of the make-up of this roster McCullar played 35 minutes in the blowout win. But, still. We’re talking about something that’s been done just four times (again, officially) in all of KU basketball history and two of those have come from the same player in a week’s time. The final assist, which pushed him to 10 for the night, came on a corner 3-pointer by Elmarko Jackson in the final 2 minutes. Before that, McCullar had racked up the points and rebounds much earlier. Versatility has long been a calling card for McCullar’s game. But he’s really starting to show how much production that versatility came provide now that he has an even bigger role.

• In case you missed it, check out former KU All-American Jalen Wilson's thoughts on what his longtime friend and former teammate Kevin McCullar Jr. can do with the Jayhawks this season.

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