KJ Adams, just three days after saying goodbye to his mother, Yvonne, who passed away Friday night in Austin, Texas, arrived at Kansas’ team hotel in Oahu at 1:45 p.m. Monday, just 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to tip of the Jayhawks’ first-round Maui Invitational clash against Chaminade in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Adams, a 6-7 junior forward, whose beloved mom attended several KU games the past two seasons and this year’s Late Night in the Phog, worked up quite a sweat during warmups with his teammates 90 minutes before tip.
He didn’t start but entered with 14:14 left in the first half to a standing ovation from the 2,000 or so KU fans in the 10,300-seat building.
Adams — he picked up a quick offensive foul after entering the first time — scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and dished four assists while playing 26 minutes in the Jayhawks’ 83-56 victory over the Div. II Silverswords.
He was quite effective during a game that the Silverswords kept competitive almost all the way.
“Considering all the stress and lack of sleep, it may not be a bad idea to get him in there to relieve a little stress,” KU coach Bill Self said in his pregame radio interview, commenting on possible minutes for Adams.
He stuck with his plan of starting freshman Johnny Furphy (four points) at the forward spot for Adams.
“She (Yvonne) struggled so long. They (Adams family) have handled this with so much grace and class. They’re hurting. This is a tough time for KJ,” Self said. “His father, Kevin, his sisters and niece are all going to be here together. It’s nice they have the opportunity to stay together this week.”
Adams started the second half with KU up by just 12 points. He caught an inbounds lob pass from Dajuan Harris and slammed it to give KU a 41-29 lead at 18:41.
Also with 13:03 left, Harris threw the ball off the backboard to a trailing Adams, who slammed it in. Adams left for good to a standing ovation with 4:12 left and KU up by 22 points.
KU will play the winner of the Marquette-UCLA game Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. Central.
Here are some takeaways from the game...
Hunter Dickinson erupts, but Chaminade keeps it close
Chaminade didn’t seem intimidated at all despite falling behind the Jayhawks 21-9 at the 10:51 mark in the first half. The Silverswords at that point had 10 rebounds to KU’s nine. KU center Hunter Dickinson had nine early points, including a 3 and three boards.
It was 25-20 KU at the 6:20 mark. At that point Chaminade’s fans chanted: “Overrated.”
Dickinson, who had 15 points and six rebounds the initial half, finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds after scoring 27 points with 21 rebounds last Tuesday against Kentucky.
The Silverswords at the break were still in the game, down 39-27, with Jamir Thomas and Ross Reeves leading the way with just six points apiece.
The “overrated” chant returned with 15:52 left and KU up 48-37 following an acrobatic layup by Chaminade’s Reeves. KU moments earlier had a 16-point lead at 48-32.
The Silverswords, courtesy of a 7-0 run, cut a 63-40 deficit to 63-47 at 8:40. A Dickinson dunk gave the Jayhawks a 65-47 margin, ending that surge.
Kevin McCullar nets another triple double
KU senior Kevin McCullar, who had a triple double against Kentucky, finished with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He added 11 rebounds and 10 assists in 35 minutes vs. Chaminade.
McCullar had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the Jayhawks’ win over Kentucky. He is the first Jayhawk ever with back-to-back documented triple-doubles.
Tough half for Nick Timberlake
Nick Timberlake, who was recruited to be a 3-point shooter, was 0-for-2 from 3 and 0-for-3 shooting overall the first half. He finished 1-for-5 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3.
Timberlake has gone 0-for-8 from 3 in his last three games, and he is just 3-for-12 (25%) from 3 on the season.
It’s happened before
It’s been a common occurrence in the Maui Invitational for KU to defeat host Chaminade.
The No. 1-ranked Jayhawks also beat the Silverswords in 2015 2019 en route to winning the tourney title. KU actually is 5-0 against Chaminade all-time, all games played at the Maui tournament. The Jayhawks have appeared in the tourney eight times.
Chaminade, meanwhile, now has an 8-99 all-time record in the invitational. The Silverswords had been hoping for a monumental victory that would be as impressive as Chaminade’s historic win over Ralph Sampson’s No 1-ranked Virginia Cavaliers that put Chaminade on the map in 1982.