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Moments That Popped: No. 5 Kansas 69, No. 4 UConn 65

Highlights and memorable moments from a wild top-5 clash at Allen Fieldhouse

5 min read
KU big man Hunter Dickinson, right, checks UConn center Donovan Clingan during the Jayhawks' 69-65 win at Allen Fieldhouse on Friday night. [Chance Parker photo]

Facing a top-5 foe for the second time in 10 days, the 5th-ranked Jayhawks came out on the right end of this one, knocking off No. 4 UConn, 69-65 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The win moved Kansas to 7-1 on the season and gave the Jayhawks three marquee wins in the first month of the season — No. 16 Kentucky, No. 7 Tennessee and UConn on Friday night.

Three Jayhawks reached double digits in scoring, with Kevin McCullar Jr., leading the way with 21 points, 3-of-4 3-point shooting and a 6-of-6 showing at the free throw line.

Junior forward KJ Adams had his best game of the season thus far, dropping 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a few key baskets down the stretch. Adams also brought a lot of emotion and energy to the game, inspiring his teammates and the KU crowd to follow his lead.

Hunter Dickinson added 15 points and 9 rebounds in the win.

The six other Jayhawks who played combined for just 15 points.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and memorable moments from Friday’s high-intensity, temperature-turned-all-the-way up showdown between college basketball’s last two national champions.


• That KU start: You had to know it was coming. But, still… It was something to see. On a Friday night, with the whole two buzzing and KU still irked by that sub-par effort in a win over Eastern Illinois a few days earlier, the Jayhawks came out and absolutely blitzed this game from the jump. Kansas raced out to a 16-5 lead behind points from four of the five KU starters — including a Dajuan Harris Jr. 3-pointer — and that put UConn in catch-up mode the rest of the way. Allen Fieldhouse is hard enough to navigate without spotting the home team an 11-point lead. Kansas led by as many as 12 a couple of times in the first half and took a 38-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.

• Refs gone wild: I get that not everyone — on either side, really — liked the way this game was officiated. But you can’t say the refs didn’t let the boys play. There were more straight-up collisions between two, three, four and even five players that went without a whistle on Friday than maybe all season combined up to that point. Some of that is owed to the style of play UConn brought to the table. And some of it is missed calls and whistles that should’ve come. Either way, it made for an interesting and entertaining brand of basketball and you just never quite knew what teams were going to get away with and what they weren’t.

• Ted Lasso sighting: Longtime KU fan and Kansas City native Jason Sudekis was at Allen Fieldhouse on Friday, cheering on the Jayhawks, sitting in with the pep band and hanging out with WNBA and UConn legend Sue Bird to film part of a documentary. The Ted Lasso actor, who has done all kinds of things in Hollywood for more than a decade, merely added to the buzz and big-game feel of Friday’s fun.

• UConn crowd brings it: There’ve been plenty of opposing fan bases who came into Allen Fieldhouse and got rowdy over the years. But not too many of them were as loud and proud as the UConn fans in this one. They cheered loudly during the KU intro, busted out chants during timeouts and stayed loud throughout the game, even with the rough start. “U-C-O-N-N, UConn, UConn, UConn, UConn.” “Let’s Go Hus-kies” That and more was heard throughout the Fieldhouse, but especially in the southwest corner.

• Speaking of the crowd: There was a nice recognition for former KU and Connecticut athletic director Lew Perkins during a second-half timeout, with Perkins’ family in attendance. Perkins, who died in July, received a standing ovation from several fans in the stands as a list of his accomplishments, at both schools, was read by the public address announcer during the timeout.


• Dajuan Harris Jr. struggles to score: One day after KU coach Bill Self talked about how the Jayhawks needed point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. to at least look to score more, the fourth-year junior finished 1-for-7 from the floor, with the only make coming in the early surge. Seven shots is a good number of attempts, so beggars can’t be choosers. But he probably needs to make a few more to truly make everyone happy. Harris did his thing with 6 assists, but he also missed the only two free throws he attempted, crucial ones late in the game, when he looked to have next to no confidence while standing at the line. He’ll get it back. He’s a winner and a competitor. But this was not his best effort on the offensive end and KU needed him out there for 38+ minutes.

• Tristen Newton gets loose: Allen Fieldhouse lore is full of visiting players who get hot and go off only to be remembered by angry Jayhawks forever. Add UConn guard Tristen Newton to that list. Newton hit KU for 31 points — 16 in one half and 15 in the other — and made 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range, almost single-handedly willing UConn to a wild win. Self called him the best player in the game and even lamented that KU did a fairly decent job of staying connected to him and he still made shots. Newton shrugged it off and said he’s been in college for five years, played in a lot of big games and believes it’s his job to have games like that. Either way, it was a heck of an effort by him and one the Jayhawks will look back on and think they got lucky that it didn’t get them beat.


• Elmarko vs. Clingan in the post: With around 5 minutes to play in the game, UConn big man Donovan Clingan caught KU guard Elmarko Jackson on a switch in the post and struggled to get to the basket. That, in some ways, signaled the end for the Huskies. It wasn’t that they didn’t have time to erase the deficit, it’s just that if your monster big man can’t turn and score over a freshman guard, it just might not be your night. Give Elmarko credit for using his strength and experience battling with Hunter Dickinson in practice to make it hard on Clingan, but, still…. Speaking of Dickinson and Clingan, that matchup went to Dickinson, who outscored Clingan 15-8, out-rebounded him 9-7 and, of course, got the win.

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