July 16, 2024

No. 8 Kansas scores the most points this season against No. 4 Houston in a 78-65 victory

Kansas center Hunter Dickinson (1) attempts to score against Houston forward Ja'Vier Francis (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

By DAVID SMALE Associated Press
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Hunter Dickinson had 20 points to lead four Jayhawks in double figures as No. 8 Kansas beat No. 4 Houston 78-65 in front of a frenzied crowd on Saturday.
“That was our best crowd of the season,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, “and we’ve had some good ones.”
Kansas (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) got 17 points each from Kevin McCullar and Johnny Furphy, and 10 from KJ Adams.
The Jayhawks hit nine of their first 10 shots, helping them to a 23-11 lead at the second media timeout. The Cougars, who lead the nation in field goal defense (35.5%) allowed Kansas to shoot 68% (17 of 25) in the first half.
“I didn’t anticipate getting off to that good to start,” Self said. “We thought the best way to attack them was to use all 50 feet wide and 47 feet long, and then hopefully be able to play behind their aggressiveness to start the game. We did that perfectly.”
Houston (19-3, 6-3) was led by L.J. Cryer with 24 points while J’Wan Roberts and Emanuel Sharp scored 11 points each.
Houston came into the game with the nation’s best scoring defense at 52.9 points per game allowed and had not allowed more than 72 points in a game all season. The Jayhawks hit 53 points with 14:17 left in the second half on a layup by Dickinson.
The Jayhawks led 43-28 at halftime. The Cougars had not allowed more than 30 points in a first half all season.
“A blindfolded person would do better than we did,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “The day was all about the Kansas program, the tradition and Bill getting his team ready to play in this gym. I mean, the way they shot the ball you’d thought we lost by 30. We lost by 13.”
Kansas extended its 15-point halftime lead to 20 in the second half. Houston cut the lead to 10 at 68-58 with about five minutes to play but could not get closer.
“We knew it was going to be a battle from the beginning,” Furphy said. “I think we did a really good job of setting the tone early. They’re definitely a really good side. They’re a really tough physical team.”
Dickinson said he’d never been part of an offensive output like Saturday.
“We showed a lot of execution on the offensive side,” he said. “When we’re able to hit shots, it’s pretty, pretty hard to defend. We had 43 points in the first half against the No. 1 ranked defense in the country. I don’t think (I’ve seen that) in my career.”
While it was a big win, especially in the conference race, Self was quick to point out that the conference season is only halfway done.
“I think it’s a little premature to talk about this as one of the biggest wins,” he said. “If this was playing for some kind of stakes, you could certainly make a bigger case. But it’s still just February 3.
“I don’t mean to minimize it. It was a great win. But we’ve had a lot of really good wins in this building.”
THE TAKEAWAY
Houston: The Cougars weren’t about to go away easily. They trimmed a 58-38 deficit to 10 points with the help of a 10-2 run.
Kansas: The Jayhawks were intent on showing conference newcomers Houston that the road to the Big 12 Championship goes through Lawrence.
UP NEXT
Houston: The Cougars return home for a Tuesday night game against Oklahoma State.
Kansas: The Jayhawks visit Kansas State on Monday.