The eighth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks made 16 of their first 20 shots against the top-rated defensive team in the country and never looked back, defeating the fourth-ranked Houston Cougars 78-65 on Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.
Against the team with the #1 adjusted defense according to KenPom, the Jayhawks shot a scalding 68.9 percent (31-45) from the field – the highest percentage allowed by a Houston team in the Kelvin Sampson era (since 2014) – and scored more points against the Cougars than any opponent had previously this season. KU raced to a 15-point halftime lead and led by as many as 20 in the second half on their way to the win, becoming the first team this season to beat Houston by double-digits.
Hunter Dickinson led four Jayhawks in double-figures with 20 points, his tenth game with that many points this season. Johnny Furphy added 17 points, with 14 of those coming in the first half. Kevin McCullar also scored 17 points, and KJ Adams chipped in with 10.
The Jayhawks never trailed in the game, making eight of their first nine shots and building a double-digit lead inside of the first eight minutes. A mid-court steal and breakaway dunk by McCullar gave KU a 15-point lead, 30-15, with 7:37 to play in the half. The Jayhawks led by as many as 16 in the first 20 minutes before settling for a 43-28 lead at the intermission.
Make Some Noise‼️
Our @jerseymikes Naismith Men’s College POY Watch List player Kevin McCullar has the Allen Fieldhouse ROCKING
— Naismith Awards (@NaismithTrophy) February 3, 2024
Kansas took their largest lead of the game at 58-38 with 12:23 to play thanks to a Dickinson basket, but LJ Cryer tried his best to keep the Cougars in the game. Cryer, a transfer from Baylor who was one of only two Houston players to have played in a game at Allen Fieldhouse prior to Saturday, scored 21 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, and cut the KU lead to ten at 68-58 after a three-pointer with five minutes left. But the Jayhawks would allow the Cougars no closer, and McCullar punctuated the victory with a follow slam with a minute left that made it 78-63.
thought y'all might want to see this one again pic.twitter.com/9tW3lkIlsr
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) February 3, 2024
The win moves the Jayhawks to 18-4 overall and 6-3 in the Big 12, while Houston dropped to 19-3 and 6-3 in Big 12 play. Next up for KU is the Sunflower Showdown Monday night in Manhattan against a reeling K-State team that has lost four consecutive games.