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MENS BASKETBALL


Kansas 75, Yale 60

College Basketball

By DAVE SKRETTA
Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kevin McCullar Jr. was going IN for a layup in practice this week when one of his Kansas teammates landed on his head.

You’d never know that he had tweaked his neck Friday night.

The veteran guard poured in a career-high 34 points against Yale, taking over during a second-half run that gave the Jayhawks the lead, and the nation’s second-ranked team eventually pulled away for a 75-60 win over the Bulldogs.

“He’s been our best player the whole year. Proved it again today,” said Jayhawks reserve Nicolas Timberlake, who added 13 points. “Got nicked up in practice the other day and played through it. Easily one of the toughest players I’ve played with.”

Dajuan Harris Jr. added 10 points and six assists for the Jayhawks (11-1), who trailed by as many as 11 in the first half and by a point at the break before making the final appear much more comfortable than it was all night.

Yale (7-6) shut down Kansas big man Hunter Dickinson, kept the Jayhawks from getting into transition and held its own on the glass. It also got 13 points apiece from guards August Mahoney and Bez Mbeng, who kept the Bulldogs in the game.

“We didn’t play well early,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “The last 24 minutes I thought we were pretty good.”

Kansas has had trouble with trap-type games this season, stumbling past Eastern Illinois between the Maui Invitational and a showdown with UConn, and struggling to overcome a slow start against Kansas City before facing rival Missouri.

That was the case again in the Jayhawks’ last game before an eight-day holiday break.

They missed easy shots in the paint, took poor shots from the perimeter and allowed Yale to gain some confidence when Mahoney and John Poulakidas began knocking down 3-pointers. By the time Danny Wolf knocked down a 3 of his own, and Self called timeout, the Bulldogs had built a 25-14 lead in the closing minutes of the first half.

The Jayhawks settled down a bit, scoring the final seven points of the half, but they still trailed 33-32 at the break.

Then they turned up the defense in the second half.

Forcing the Bulldogs into a pair of shot-clock violations, and very nearly three more, the Jayhawks slowly pulled back ahead. And when they got the lead, they quickly extended it, unspooling a 13-1 run to take a 51-43 lead with 7 1/2 minutes to go.

McCullar added a pair of 3s during a 10-0 run a couple of minutes later that put the game away.

“The big thing for us, we have guys that can put the ball in the hole,” McCullar said. “It’s about the defensive end for us. Not all shots are going to fall. We have to worry about the defensive end first.”

BIG PICTURE

Yale hung with Gonzaga earlier this season, so coach James Jones knew his team could compete. But the way the Bulldogs played in the toughest environment they will face all season bodes well for Ivy League play.

Kansas was coming off tough games against Missouri and Indiana, so the Jayhawks were ripe for a letdown. Now comes a break before facing Wichita State in Kansas City, Missouri, in the Jayhawks’ final tuneup before Big 12 play.

​December 22, 2023






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