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‘Oh my goodness; he really just did that!’

KU point guard Elmarko Jackson breaks down his behind-the-back dime vs. Texas

3 min read
KU freshman Elmarko Jackson smiles during the Jayhawks' 86-67 win over Texas on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 at Allen Fieldhouse. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Kansas freshman Elmarko Jackson did not go into the moment looking to make a flashy play. But he sure didn’t mind having done it after he saw that it worked out.

Late in the first half of Saturday’s 86-67 home win over Texas at Allen Fieldhouse, Jackson delivered one of the top two or three highlights in a game full of them after a call came in from the bench on an inbounds play.

At the most basic level, the play, which Jackson called his “last read,” was a slick behind-the-back dish to big man Hunter Dickinson in the paint for an easy deuce that put the 9th-ranked Jayhawks up 42-24. But, as with most plays — good or bad — there was more to it than what we saw.

“The play’s for me to get a slight drive and hopefully I can turn the corner on my defender,” Jackson told R1S1 Sports after Saturday’s win. “Unfortunately, my defender beat me there.”

He had a plan for that. But even that didn’t work out exactly like he thought or hoped it would.

“I told Hunt before the play, ‘Be ready for that lob because I’ll throw it up because your man is definitely gonna help over,’” Jackson recalled. Video replay even shows Dickinson preparing to go vertically before catching the pass.

“His man helped over,” Jackson continued. “But it was too late, so I just made the pass. It was just a reaction.”

It also elicited quite a reaction from those around him.

“I was out there,” teammate Jamari McDowell told R1S1 after Saturday’s game. “I put my hands on my head. I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness; he really just did that.’ I’ve seen it before. It’s not rare. It’s might be a little rare out here, but I’ve seen it a few times.”

After throwing the pass, his momentum took him out of the play, so Jackson relied on his ears to tell him how well his decision worked out.

“Just when everybody was like, ‘Ahhhhhh!’ I was like, ‘All right, bet. Cool,’” he said.

Dickinson had his own reaction.

“He was like, ‘Good-ass pass,’” Jackson recalled. “I was like, ‘Appreciate you, bro. You made me look good.’”

It was that kind of day for Kansas, which won despite not having senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. for the third time in the last four games.

Jackson’s play, which featured 4 assists and a steal in 18 minutes, without a single shot attempt, was a big part of the reason the Jayhawks got some of the best and most consistent play from their bench of the season.

For Jackson, who has talked about comfort and confidence being keys for him throughout the season, there was no better indication than that behind-the-back dime of the comfort and confidence he now has as the calendar readies to flip to March.

“It’s obviously not the season that I wish I would be having,” he admitted. “But we’ve been super-good as a team and just any little way I can help come March Madness time, that’s what I want to do. Being more dependable is what we’ve been talking about as an entire unit. Everybody’s stepping up and I feel like that’s what we did today.”

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