Before Kansas’ Border Showdown game against the visiting Missouri Tigers on Saturday, former Jayhawks standout Thomas Robinson had a message for the current KU men’s basketball players.
“It’s personal,” advised Robinson, whose jersey was retired during a halftime ceremony at Allen Fieldhouse.
The second-ranked Jayhawks seemed to heed those words in beating the Tigers 73-64.
Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams scored 17 points apiece as Kansas earned its fifth straight victory over Missouri. The Jayhawks (9-1) improved to 176-95 all-time against the Tigers, who haven’t won in Lawrence since 1999, when Norm Steward was their head coach.
After a slow start, the Jayhawks trailed Missouri 20-12 midway through the first half. But KU found its footing, closing the half on a 20-2 run to lead 41-29 at halftime.
KU hung Robinson’s number — No. 0 — in the rafters at intermission. “I love you guys to death,” Robinson told the cheering Jayhawks faithful.
Once play resumed, Mizzou refused to go quietly. The Tigers cut KU’s lead to eight, 68-60, with 1 minute, 27 seconds remaining but could get no closer.
Kansas will have a little break in play before traveling to Bloomington, Iniana to face the Hoosiers on Dec. 16.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s game:
Despite a hot MU start, KU defense holds strong
Initially, it felt like the Tigers couldn’t miss.
Then Jayhawks locked down the paint vs. MU, limiting them to 28 points in the paint. Meanwhile, Kansas finished with 42 points.
Kansas’ excellent interior defense forced the Tigers to shoot 3-pointers and slowly, the Tigers went ice-cold from deep. MU shot 7-for-21 (33%) from deep. As a whole, the Tigers shot 24-for-58 (41.4%) from the field.
Kansas showcased why it came into the game with the No. 7-ranking in adjusted defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions).
KJ Adams continues to shine
After KU’s game against Kansas City on Tuesday night, KU coach Bill Self raved about KJ Adams’ improvement on the offensive end.
Well, he lived up to Self’s praise against the Tigers.
Adams was phenomenal on both ends, from hitting timely shots when the Jayhawks needed it most or making great plays on the defensive end.
One of his most impressive plays came when Adams hustled and chased down Missouri’s Anthony Robinson for a devastating block. The block directly led to a Dickinson and-one on the other end.
Adams finished with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting while adding five assists. This is his third straight game with 15+ points.
Quiet first half for Hunter Dickinson
Heading into the game, Dickinson was averaging 20.1 points per game.
At the end of the first half, KU’s star big man had two points on 1-for-2 shooting from the field.
Why? Missouri’s excellent defense against him.
The Tigers did everything in their power to deny him the ball; this included double-teaming him, not letting him set up in the post and keeping him away from his favorite spots on the floor.
It forced the Jayhawks to run their offense through their guards, a big reason why Kansas struggled to score early in the first half. It took KU time to adjust to it.
Despite the quiet first half, Dickinson finished with his sixth double-double of the year with 13 points and 16 rebounds.