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Final exams have arrived for KU basketball. Here’s what the next week will look like

To some, it may seem like only yesterday Kansas’ 2023-24 men’s basketball team traveled to Puerto Rico for three exhibition games the first week of August.

Reality is, however, that time has flown by and first-semester classes on KU’s campus have already come and gone. The Jayhawks on Monday were to begin final-exams week with just two games left to play before Christmas and three games total remaining on the nonconference schedule.

“Finals trumps practice. Finals trumps everything this week,” KU coach Bill Self said after the Jayhawks’ 73-64 win over Missouri on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

“We’ll take (Sunday) off, then we’ll find an hour and 15 (minutes) or hour and a half in between tests for everybody to come in and practice (all week). We need maintenance practice without question,” Self said. “We basically play the 16th (at Indiana), so finals are over the 15th. The students (non-athletes on campus) will get a long break. Our guys won’t get one.

“Let’s knock this out. Then when we get back, it will be a time we have to take things serious and get better.”

The Jayhawks (9-1) will meet (7-2) Indiana at 11:30 a.m. Central on Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana.

After that, KU will meet Yale at 7 p.m., Dec. 22, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawk players will head to their respective hometowns or hometowns of friends for the Christmas holiday on Dec. 23, then return to Lawrence on the 26th to prepare for a game against Wichita State on Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Center.

Second-semester classes will begin Jan. 16, four games into the conference season.

Saturday’s victory over MU, KU’s ninth nonconference victory in 10 tries, “was a good win,” Self said. “It wasn’t anything beautiful or artistic, but we’ll take it. We shouldn’t apologize for beating Missouri by nine points at home even though I don’t think we played very well. I’m sure Dennis (Gates, Missouri coach) thought they did the things they had to do to stay in the game. Their speed bothered us. They really collapsed and helped (double teaming Hunter Dickinson, who still managed 13 points and 16 rebounds). They played to scouting report (well).”

Self explained Mizzou “took Hunter away the first half totally (two points); still, we were up 12 at halftime (41-29). We go up 18, then don’t play smart. We’re careless, do some other things that we need to correct. We haven’t been a good rebounding team but we dominate the glass (42-25) and outscore them 17-0 in second-chance points, which is a big key in this game because they rotation rebound so much because they are going to run, try and steal the ball and help so much. We did good job on the glass.”

Self noted that Mizzou was a difficult team to play “because your plays don’t work. They play on top of you. You don’t get a chance to catch it where you want to because of the way they play.”

Even so, the Jayhawks got a few easy baskets, Self said, but more often it was players stepping up and making plays

“That was a far better offense than us running plays,” Self finished.

KU’s rebounding and free-throw shooting proved vital to claiming the Jayhawks’ 15th consecutive win over Missouri in Allen Fieldhouse.

KU had season highs of 13 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points. The Jayhawks cashed 20 of 23 free throws for a season-high 87%.

Junior forward KJ Adams (17 points) was 3-of-4 from the line. He’s now made 17 of his last 25 free throws (68%) after starting the season 2-of-13 (15.4%).

“I’ve been locking in on that aspect of the game, staying in (the gym) later and shooting free throws,” Adams said. “I think just spending more time in that area, focusing in on hitting those shots (has been beneficial).”