🏀 No. 5 Kansas Defeats No. 4 Reigning National Champion UConn 69-65
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kevin McCullar Jr. scored 21 points, including back-to-back three-pointers that gave Kansas the lead down the stretch, and the fifth-ranked Jayhawks held on to beat No. 4 UConn 69-65 on Friday night in a showdown of the past two national champions.
The Jayhawks (7-1) had a chance to wrap up the game in the final minute, when the Huskies (7-1) were forced to foul, but KJ Adams Jr. and Dajuan Harris Jr. were only able to make one of their four free throws.
The defending champion Huskies raced down the floor, and Cam Spencer got a good look at a potential go-ahead 3-pointer, but the shot came up short and Adams grabbed the rebound. He was fouled, and this time he made both free throws with 2.4 seconds left to clinch the win.
Hunter Dickinson had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Adams finished with 18 points, helping the Jayhawks snap the Huskies’ remarkable streak of 24 consecutive nonconference wins by double digits.
Tristen Newton hit a career-high six three-pointers and scored 31 points for the Huskies, but he got little help from the rest of the offense. Donovan Clingan, who banged with fellow 7-footer Dickinson all night, was held to eight points and seven boards.
Kansas raced to a 16-5 lead by the time the game was five minutes old, ratcheting up what already was a deafening roar inside old Allen Fieldhouse. And every time the Huskies — or more accurately, Newton — made a three-pointer to cut into the lead, the Jayhawks were able to get into transition against one of the nation’s top scoring teams for another easy basket.
Kansas had chances to deliver a knockout blow, leading by as many as 12 with the ball, but couldn’t quite land it. Newton took advantage, scoring the final five points of the first half to trim the Jayhawks’ lead to 38-31 at the break.
UConn kept coming, scoring the first five points of the second half, setting up the heavyweight matchup everyone expected.
The Huskies took their first lead when Newton beat the shot clock with a three-pointer with 10 and a half minutes to go, then he drilled another one on their next trip down the floor. Kansas answered when Adams got a floater to go in the lane, then McCullar hit back-to-back three-pointers and Dickinson one of his own to give the Jayhawks a 61-54 lead with less than four minutes to go.
Alex Karaban gave the Huskies hope with a three-pointer shortly before fouling out, and then he watched from the bench as two of college basketball’s titans went shot-for-shot over the final couple of minutes.
Kansas will take on local foe Kansas City on December 5 at 7 p.m CT at Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be available on Big 12 NOW on ESPN+.