LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Hunter Dickinson had seven points, two rebounds and a block in the first 90 seconds of his Kansas career Monday night, then made a trio of 3-pointers that showed the 7-foot-2 transfer from Michigan is more than just a beast on the block.
Not surprisingly, his newfound fans inside Allen Fieldhouse responded with waves of adulation.
“I was telling somebody, ‘I’m used to the opposing fans being this loud and more boos than cheers,’” Dickinson said after leading the top-ranked Jayhawks to a 99-56 wipeout of North Carolina Central on college basketball’s opening night.
“It was fun to have people on my side for once,” added Dickinson. “The atmosphere was insane. I’ve been hearing about it during my recruiting, and when I committed, I was hearing so much about Allen Fieldhouse. It lived up to it.”
Dickinson lived up to the hype, too, finishing with 21 points, eight boards and five assists.
Nicolas Timberlake had 13 points, KJ Adams Jr. scored 12 and Dajuan Harris Jr. dished out 10 assists for the Jayhawks, who led 59-17 at halftime before coasting over the final 20 minutes to their 51st consecutive home-opening win.
Ja’Darius Harris had 12 points to lead the Eagles.
“We have 10 new guys who none of them have really played Division I basketball,” longtime NC Central coach LeVelle Moton said. “You play this type of game, you get their attention early.”
Any doubt about the outcome was gone midway through the first half, when the Jayhawks went on a 20-2 run to take a 40-11 lead. McCullar Jr. scored eight during the spurt, and transfer forward Parker Braun added a highlight ally-oop dunk.
“The first 25 minutes, that ball moved” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Seemed to me we got everything we wanted, even when we didn’t score.”
Dickinson had 17 points, seven boards and four assists by halftime; the Eagles had 18 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
“You have to pray, you have to go to church and get a strong service in,” Moton said of matching up with Dickinson. “He’s going to be a problem, and he’s not just going to be a problem for North Carolina Central. He’s going to be a problem for everyone.”
As impressive as the Jayhawks were offensively, piling up 34 assists on 39 field goals while shooting nearly 70.0 percent from the field, they were just as good on defense. NC Central was just 6-of-23 from deep and shot 23.0 percent from the field.
“Coach has been on us pretty much every practice, just getting the defense right,” Timberlake said. “We came out storming.”
Kansas guard Johnny Furphy played with no limitations after dealing with shin splints during the preseason. Fellow freshman Jamari McDowell was not suited up after a minor injury in practice but should be back this week.
NC Central will find life much easier in the MEAC, where the Eagles were picked to finish third this season.
Kansas had struggled in exhibitions against Illinois and Fort Hays State from beyond the 3-point line but went 13 of 23 against the Eagles. That included a 9-of-12 mark in the first half.
Kansas will host Manhattan College on Friday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. Central. The game from Allen Fieldhouse will be televised on Big 12 NOW via ESPN+. Kansas and Manhattan will be meeting for the first time in men’s basketball.