Playing without senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr., who missed Tuesday’s game presumably to give his ailing knee a night off, the 8th-ranked Kansas men’s basketball team delivered a balanced effort in a beatdown of Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse.
Two weeks after drubbing the Cowboys by 24 at their place, Kansas rolled past OSU 83-54 on Tuesday night.
The win moved the Jayhawks to 17-4 overall and 5-3 in Big 12 play, while also getting KU back on the winning track and making the program 119-18 under head coach Bill Self following a loss.
The Jayhawks saw five players reach double figures, including KJ Adams, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting to go along with 6 assists in 31 minutes.
Hunter Dickinson added another double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds and Dajuan Harris Jr., who got the scoring started with a 3-point make on the first shot of the night, finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with 7 assists and one turnover. KU turned it over just 10 times.
Next up, it’s the game we all had circled when the 2023-24 conference schedule was released. KU will return to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday to host No. 4 Houston. Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. on ESPN.
After that, it’s a quick turnaround and another battle, as the Jayhawks head to Manhattan to take on Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum next Monday night.
Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and memorable moments from Tuesday's home win over Oklahoma State.
• No hesitation: It wasn’t exactly what we talked about in this story from Tuesday morning, but the rest for McCullar and plugging Elmarko Jackson into the starting lineup had the desired effect. Both Jackson (10 points on 4-of-8 shooting) and senior point guard Dajuan Harris Jr., showed early that they were ready and willing to shoot when open, rather than looking to get someone else going or waiting their turn. That allowe the Jayhawks to build an early lead and they never looked back from there. KU never trailed in the game, and Jackson and Harris, along with a few other Jayhawks, showed no hesitation in letting it fly when open shots came their way.
• KJ digs in on D: You’ve probably caught it a time or two before this season, but it was noteworthy on Tuesday night because of what came after it. As KJ Adams prepared to guard OSU’s Eric Dailey Jr. on the perimeter midway through the first half, he clapped his hands twice before sliding his feet to cut off Dailey’s drive toward the baseline. As he slid, Dailey’s momentum carried him out of bounds, giving the Jayhawks the ball back after the turnover. Adams, who has been known to show plenty of emotion after a vicious dunk on the offensive end, pumped his fist after the play and looked just as fired up about the defensive stop as he would any bucket on the other end. For what it’s worth, Adams had a little extra emotion and a few more gestures than normal throughout the early going on Tuesday night. Call that the product of a veteran leader bringing the kind of energy he knows his team needs.
• Bench support: We’ve talked plenty about the need for KU to find some production from its bench. And the Jayhawks got a little on Tuesday night. But let’s not overlook the role the bench can and often does play in bringing energy to the court. Next time you’re able, watch the bench to see how freshman guard Jamari McDowell handles himself. Always up. Always yelling. Often going crazy to cheer for a teammate or encourage his team to get a big stop. That might not put points directly on the board, but it’s not nothing either. And it was on full display in this one. McDowell probably won’t have a huge-minutes role at any point this season. But he clearly understands and has embraced the role he has. The other guys sitting with him are right there, as well.
• Walk-on run: Thanks to the way the starters and rotation guys played, Self was able to go deep into his bench in this one to close it out. Senior walk-on Michael Jankovich checked in with 4:22 to play and promptly drained a 3-pointer on his first offensive possession. Wilder Evers also later scored on a lob, with the assist coming from Nick Timberlake.
• Home of the Chiefs?: The ending of the national anthem to include the word “Chiefs” instead of “brave” has rubbed certain people wrong for years for a bunch of different reasons. But, on Tuesday night, it was not entirely inaccurate. Several members of the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs were in attendance for Tuesday’s game, including a good chunk of the Chiefs’ offensive line. In addition to one of the loudest “Chieeeeefffs” roars in recent memory, the group also was introduced on the video board during a break in the game.
More from Tuesday's win over OSU...
• McCullar sits: As much as the Jayhawks proved they could overcome the loss of their leading scorer — even finding a way to thrive offensively in the face of it — you still don’t love that McCullar’s knee injury that Self has talked about for the past couple of weeks is worth watching enough that they felt like it was a good idea to sit him. It probably was the best thing for him and it may pay off in the long run. But injuries are no fun to monitor and a couple of key Jayhawks are dealing with their share of them at the moment.
• Bryce Thompson injury: Forget that he’s a former Jayhawk, you never like to see a guy go down with a serious injury. But that appears to be what happened to OSU guard Bryce Thompson early in this one. Thompson hit the floor hard after getting fouled on an attempted layup. He stayed down on the ground for several minutes before slowly getting up and walking gingerly back to the locker room. He did not return and it looked like he was holding his shoulder or collarbone area on his way back to get checked.
• Holy hot hand: We touched on this a little earlier, but it’s still worth mentioning again because of what it produced. Buoyed largely by their free-flowing vibe and relaxed nature, the Jayhawks looked loose and confident whenever they decided to shoot in the early going. That led to a scorching hot night, which included Kansas shooting a whopping 75% from the floor (15-for-20) with just over 4 minutes to play in the first half. KU finished the night shooting 58% (34-for-59) and that featured a nice blend of several different guys scoring and shots in tight and from behind the arc. KU outscored OSU by 30 (44-14) in points in the paint and also made as many 3-pointers as the Cowboys (8 of 18) in 11 less attempts.
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