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Moments That Popped: No. 6 Kansas at Texas Tech

Life on the road in the Big 12 continues to be a struggle for the Jayhawks

7 min read
KU guard Elmarko Jackson defends Texas Tech's Pop Isaacs during Monday's loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Lubbock, Texas — The 6th-ranked Kansas men's basketball team dropped another Big 12 game on the road on Monday night, falling to Texas Tech, 79-50, at United Supermarkets Arena.

The loss dropped KU to 19-6 overall and 7-5 in Big 12 play, with all five of those conference losses coming on the road, where Kansas is just 1-5 so far with three to play.

The icing on the cake in this one came with 5:49 to play, when KU coach Bill Self received back-to-back technical fouls for arguing a foul call. The second technical got Self ejected from the game and the ensuing free throws put Texas Tech up by 20, 63-43.

After the game, Self said he did not curse nor was he trying to get thrown out. But he added that he did say a magic word that got him tossed.

It was merely a formality from there and the TTU fans hammered Kansas with chants of "over-rated" the rest of the way.

Other jeers overheard in the crowd, "Start the bus!!!" And, after a layup by Johnny Furphy in the final minute, "They hit 50!"

As the Jayhawks walked off the floor and back to the locker room, they carried looks of astonishment and frustration, with point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. walking with a towel over his head.

Playing without starting guard Kevin McCullar Jr. and freshman reserve Jamari McDowell for a second consecutive game, the Jayhawks started the game short-handed and never found a way to gain the upper hand.

The Red Raiders, who improved to 18-6 overall and 7-4 in Big 12 play, attacked Kansas from the start and never let up, pushing the Jayhawks physically and mentally throughout the night.

The Jayhawks will have the rest of the week off before returning to action on Saturday at Oklahoma. Tipoff for that one is slated for 3 p.m. on ESPN.

After that, it’s another week of rest for the Jayhawks, who will play host to Texas on Feb. 24 after taking on the Sooners on Feb. 17. This team will take the time off, with the Jayhawks desperately in need of some rest and some time to heal.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and memorable moments from the Jayhawks’ Big Monday battle at Texas Tech.


• Coach McCullar: It’s one thing for injured guard Kevin McCullar to help his teammates out from time to time on the bench with what he sees and what they need to remember. It’s another for McCullar to help KU coach Bill Self out. But that happened on a few occasions during this one, with Self walking down to where McCullar was sitting to briefly talk through the situation at hand. Cool to see McCullar return to his old school for this one even though he couldn’t play and never even tried to go in warm-ups.

• KJ at the 5: The Jayhawks went to a familiar look from the 2022-23 season for the final few minutes of the first half, with KJ Adams at the 5 and four other guards out there with him. Truth be told, the lineup was really just a five-guard look. Adams routinely warms up with the guards before games and has played on the perimeter a ton already this season. Self went to the look after Parker Braun picked up his first foul with Hunter Dickinson already on the bench with two fouls. In addition to protecting those guys, it also put KU’s most athletic lineup on the floor and allowed the Jayhawks to switch everything to help protect the 3-point line – for a few moments anyway.

• Elmarko’s D on Isaacs: Midway through the first half, with Kansas trailing 12-10, Elmarko Jackson picked up TTU guard Pop Isaacs in a situation that looked like it could go bad for Kansas. Instead of fouling or getting beat to the rim, Elmarko sat down, defended TTU’s leading scorer (16.9 ppg) and drew an offensive foul with great positioning. The foul was the second of the game for Isaacs. On the very next possession, Jackson carried that momentum over to his offense and hit a pull-up jumper along the baseline to tie the game.

• Evers & Jankovich get in: KU walk-on Wilder Evers played the final 25.4 seconds of the first half, which amounted to a pair of defensive possessions that KU came out on the right end of. With the roster limited because of illness and injury, the idea of playing either Michael Jankovich or Evers actual minutes became a very real thing recently. I was told last week that Evers would get the nod if it was defense KU needed and Jank if they needed offense. This was exactly that situation, as Evers checked in for Nick Timberlake, who also had two fouls, to close out the half. Midway through the second half, with KU trailing by 19, it was Jankovich’s turn, as he also checked in for Timberlake after the KU senior launched a pass out of bounds to the Kansas bench. In the game's final minute, walk-ons Dillon Wilhite and Chris Carter also entered the game, making it four walk-ons who played on the night. Only the first two checked in in non-garbage time, though.






• 3-point D, yet again: Ranked third in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting entering the game, it was already a well-known fact that the Red Raiders can hit from distance. But even by those standards what they did during Monday’s first half was a little ridiculous. At one point, Texas Tech made 8 of 12 (67%) from behind the 3-point arc in building a lead of as big as 15 points over the 6th-ranked Jayhawks. The Jayhawks’ defense actually dialed it in a little for about 10 minutes of game time, forcing 4 TTU misses from deep. But the Red Raiders responded to that with a couple of makes early in the second half that pushed their lead to 18 and forced KU to call a timeout. Kansas struggled in all ways to defend the arc in this one, leaving shooters, closing out slow and even fouling on one 3-point attempt. For the game, Tech finished 10-for-26 after the scorching start.

• Trouble down low: On a night when the Jayhawks probably needed one or maybe both of them to have fairly big scoring nights, big man Hunter Dickinson and forward KJ Adams combined to make just 2 of their first 17 shots, missing several bunnies in close on shots that both have been known to make plenty of times in the past. The margin of error was too slim and the rest of the roster too limited in what it offered in terms of scoring punch for those two to have that kind of night. Even if they made half of the shots they missed in close, this might’ve been a different game. At least a more competitive one. Give Texas Tech credit for some of their struggles, though. The Red Raiders were incredibly active and used their athleticism in both guarding the KU big men straight up and when they double- and triple-teamed Dickinson. Making matters worse, Dajuan Harris Jr. also struggled, with that trio making just 3 of its first 24 shots combined. That trio finished 5-for-30 on the night.

• That start, though: There’s no denying that the fans and the home team at United Supermarkets Arena were both fired up for this one. And maybe that contributed to the slow start by the Jayhawks a little. Either way, KU made just 1 of its first 5 shots (a Johnny Furphy dunk) and found itself in early holes of 8-2 and 12-4. At face value, neither deficit seems that massive. But given the environment and the fact that the Jayhawks were short-handed made both seem bigger than they were. Give Kansas credit. The Jayhawks made three of their next four shots after the sluggish start to pull within 12-10 at the 13:04 mark. While that pulled Kansas back into it momentarily, the tone was already set on both ends of the floor and the Jayhawks never really recovered.


• Buy that man a beer, Hunter: Midway through the second half, one of the officials saved Hunter Dickinson from a sure turnover. After coming up with a loose ball in the paint, Dickinson launched a two-handed pass over his head to Johnny Furphy who was flying up the floor. The pass was a tad overthrown and Furphy couldn’t track it down in the air. But the pass hit the official’s legs along the sideline and never went out of bounds, allowing Furphy to collect the ball and maintain possession for Kansas. With Tech fans booing furiously, the Jayhawks missed four shots at a bucket in the paint and came away empty anyway. In the end, all the wild moment did was keep Dickinson from committing another turnover. That kind of night for the Jayhawks. Even the breaks they got didn’t wind up going their way.

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