No. 6 Kansas aims to ride the momentum of a nip-and-tuck victory into Friday night’s game against Southern Utah in Lawrence, Kan.
The Jayhawks (3-0) recorded a 69-64 victory over Duke on Tuesday in the second game of the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
Gradey Dick scored seven straight points in crunch time, including a 3-pointer with 2:25 left to turn a one-point deficit into a 61-59 lead. After Duke reclaimed the lead, Dick gave Kansas a 65-62 advantage with back-to-back buckets with just over a minute left.
KJ Adams added insurance by making a layup with 22 seconds to play.
Dick finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field.
“We didn’t know where he was at times,” Kansas interim coach Norm Roberts said of Dick. “We sent out a missing person’s report in the second half. But this is his first real big-boy game he’s played in and I thought he really responded.”
Roberts walked the sideline in place of head coach Bill Self, who has served the first three contests of a four-game suspension imposed by the university as part of the fallout from an FBI investigation into corruption stemming from 2017.
The Jayhawks were led by Jalen Wilson, who scored a career-high 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds and five assists.
“Those guys never gave in. There was never any panic and that’s all led by Jalen and Dajuan (Harris),” Roberts said.
Wilson leads the Jayhawks with 21.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He’s one of three players scoring in double figures, including Dick (16.3) and MJ Rice, who scored 10 points in his only game this season.
Harris has handed out 7.7 assists per game for the Jayhawks, who have received contributions from all over. All told, 11 different players have scored in the first three games.
Southern Utah (3-1) assuredly won’t put up the same kind of resistance as Duke.
The Thunderbirds have won three straight games after opening the season with an 89-81 loss at New Mexico on Nov. 7. Their three victories, however, have come against La Verne, the University of St. Katherine and Bethesda in a five-day span.
In the 126-67 win against Bethesda, Southern Utah made 59.8 percent of its shots from the floor (52-of-87), including 11 of 31 from behind 3-point range.
The Thunderbirds owned the paint while also outrebounding Bethesda, 51-31. The Thunderbirds also scored 41 points off 23 Bethesda turnovers.
“It was a good team effort,” head coach Todd Simon said. “The guys jumped in there and battled. We just try to win every four-minute segment, chop the game up a little bit. That’s important for us.”
If the Thunderbirds are going to win any four-minute segments, much less a game against the defending national champions, they’ll need a big game from Tevian Jones (team-leading 18.0 points per game).
The Thunderbirds have a strong supporting cast, as four other players average between 10.5 and 10.0 points per game.
–Field Level Media