No. 2 Kansas slogs its way to victory over Kansas City
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self is always reluctant to describe a game as a “trap,” because he doesn’t believe it gives the opposition the credit it deserves — especially when the opponent pushes the Jayhawks right down to the wire.
Just like Kansas City did Tuesday night.
Kevin McCullar Jr. had a career-high 25 points, KJ Adams scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, and the Jayhawks needed both of them to make some big plays down the stretch to hold on for a scrappy 88-69 win over the Roos.
The Jayhawks were coming off a thrilling, down-to-the wire win over fifth-ranked UConn on Friday night, one made even more emotionally draining by the recent passing of Adams’ mother, Yvonne. And they have another high-profile showdown coming up Saturday, when their longtime and bitter rival Missouri returns to Allen Fieldhouse.
“We executed when we needed to and did the things we need to do to win,” Self said, “and pull ahead at the end, so there were some positive takeaways from it. But we have to be a heck of a lot better than we were tonight.”
Hunter Dickinson added 14 and 11 rebounds for the Jayhawks (8-1), who led by eight with 3 1/2 minutes left before scoring 10 straight to put the game away. Johnny Furphy had a couple of late baskets and finished with 10 points.
“We had to come out and handle business,” said McCullar, who also had six rebounds and five assists. “Take care of the ball, play the right way, get great shots. We had to get stops late in the game. That’s what we ended up doing.”
Cameron Faas and Khristion Courseault scored 18 points apiece to lead the Roos (6-3). Anderson Kopp had 15.
“They’ve got a great program, and we have a great program, but we are just on different levels,” Roos coach Marvin Menzies said. “We’ve been building and they’ve been built.”
The Jayhawks initially looked as if they carried the momentum from their win over the Huskies into Tuesday night. They opened on a 14-4 run, followed with a 15-3 charge fueled by easy transition buckets, and they eventually built a 31-11 lead.
Undaunted, the Roos responded by outscoring their mighty neighbor to the west 19-14 heading to the break, then kept coming in the second half. And the most fight Kansas showed for long stretches came from Dickinson, their 7-foot-2 standout, when he had enough of Allen David Mukeba leaning on him and gave the Roos’ forward a two-handed shove to the floor.
The Jayhawks eventually pushed their lead to 75-57 with just under five minutes left, but the Roos scored 10 unanswered points on just three trips down the floor, forcing Self to call two timeouts in rapid succession.
It was after the second one that Kansas scored 10 consecutive points to lock up the win.
“We totally screwed up the game,” Self said. “I think they went on a 10-0 run in like, 45 seconds or something, but we totally screwed that up, and put them in a position where they could definitely make us sweat.”
Kansas City is still winless in nine tries against the Jayhawks but should be emboldened by playing one of the nation's top teams tight most of the game. And that could bode well when Summit League play begins.
Kansas has shown a troubling propensity for playing down to the opposition this season. The Jayhawks similarly struggled to a 71-63 win over Eastern Illinois last week.
Kansas City plays Lindenwood, which moved up to Division I last year, on Saturday.
Kansas welcomes the Tigers back to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday.
Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball
- Clark tops Maravich for NCAA Division I scoring mark
- No. 3 UConn routs Seton Hall, earns 1st Big East regular-season title in 25 years
- No. 23 Gonzaga snaps No. 17 Saint Mary's 16-game winning streak
- Edey leads No. 2 Purdue past Michigan State
- Zeigler, No. 4 Tennessee close huge week with win at No. 14 Alabama