Kansas defeats K-State in Sunflower rivalry

Home turf + senior night = overwhelming advantage in 90-68 blowout

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March 6, 2024 - 2:40 PM

Kansas' Kevin McCullar Jr. (15) drives to the basket against Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The win avenges KU's overtime loss to Kansas State earlier this season. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images/TNS)

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas rarely loses at Allen Fieldhouse, and even rarer do the Jayhawks lose there to Kansas State.

On senior night? The Wildcats hardly seemed to have a chance.

Kevin McCullar Jr. had 19 points in his farewell to the Phog, fellow senior Hunter Dickinson added 15 points with 20 rebounds, and No. 14 Kansas snapped a modest two-game skid with a 90-68 blowout of Kansas State on Tuesday night.

Nick Timberlake added 18 points and KJ Adams Jr. had 16 for the Jayhawks (22-8, 10-7 Big 12), who beat the Wildcats at home for the 18th straight time and won their 40th in a row on senior night, a run that stretches back to the 1983-84 season.

Kansas also avenged an overtime loss to Kansas State (17-13, 7-10) earlier this season.

“I saw how excited they were after they beat us,” Dickinson said, “and I think that kind of stuck with us, kind of how excited they were. Usually people are excited to beat us, but especially them. I felt a little motivated coming into tonight.”

Will McNair had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, but leading scorers Tylor Perry and Cam Carter were shut down. Perry had two points after scoring 26 against the Jayhawks in February, and Carter had three points on 1-of-7 shooting.

“They kicked our butts. We didn’t deserve to win,” Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said. “Didn’t give an effort that deserved to win. Disappointed in that because the staff did an unbelievable job putting together a plan that would give us a chance.”

Two schools separated by about 80 miles of highway, and who have played 300 times since 1907, naturally harbor a little bit of animosity toward each other. And that was on display during a first half in which a couple of players nearly came to blows.

It also was evident after the game, when Jayhawks coach Bill Self said Tang did a “fly by” in the handshake line.

“I will say, when we got our ass kicked there, we shook everybody’s hand,” Self said, “so I guess it was different here today.”

The Wildcats were just 10 of 21 from the foul line for the game. Throw in some sloppiness on offense — hardly new for a team that is 339th in Division I in turnovers per game — and they were fortunate to trail 41-33 at halftime.

Kansas quickly stretched the lead to double digits in the second half. And after making one 3-pointer over the first 25 minutes, McCullar and fellow senior Timberlake hit them in quick succession, stretching the lead to 53-38 with 13:30 to go.

The Jayhawks eventually pushed the lead to 28 before the senior night celebration began in earnest.

“I think we felt a little motivated coming into tonight, knowing it was senior night, and wanting to send the seniors out on a good note,” Dickinson said. “I think this is a really good stepping stone for us.”

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State’s NCAA tourney hopes are in peril after a last-second loss to Cincinnati and a lopsided loss to Kansas. The Wildcats desperately need to beat No. 6 Iowa State on Saturday before winning a couple of games in the Big 12 Tournament.

“It’s about being competitive. Nobody is going to sprinkle fairy dust on us,” Perry said. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror. Our back is pressed against the wall. It starts with winning on Saturday and having some momentum going into next week.”

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