The Kansas Jayhawks had little trouble with Seton Hall on Thursday night, conquering the Pirates with a 91-65 victory.
That’s the highest-scoring performance of the year for the Jayhawks, who improved to 8-1 on the year by picking up the win.
Similarly to Monday night’s win over Texas Southern, an ensemble effort propelled KU to the win, but leading the way was senior guard Kevin McCullar, who returned from injury to have his best offensive performance of the season.
He tied for the game high with 17 points, going 6-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point range. McCullar also grabbed 10 rebounds, giving him his second double-double of the year.
“It was a good game for sure tonight,” McCullar said. “I just tried to make wining plays and my teammates put me in position to knock down open shots.”
McCullar missed Monday’s win and it wasn’t known until right before tip against Seton Hall whether or not he’d be able to play, period.
“It felt good to be out there, I felt healthy and felt good,” McCullar said.
He was one of six Jayhawks to finish with double figures in scoring against the Pirates. Junior forward Jalen Wilson and freshman guard Gradey Dick each had 15 points, sophomore forward K.J. Adams added 11, and junior guard Dajuan Harris and freshman center Ernest Udeh racked up 10 apiece.
That’s the first time KU had six players score in double figures in one game since a Nov. 2019 win over Monmouth.
Kansas coach Bill Self said he thought it was McCullar’s best offensive game of the year, which was especially important since Wilson and Dick had two of their least efficient games.
Fifteen points is the second-lowest scoring total for Wilson this year, but he also grabbed 13 rebounds to record his fifth double-double this season. Dick got off to a slow start from the floor, opening the game0-of-5 shooting, but he made his last four shots and was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
Strong performances by both Adams and Udeh stand out because the Jayhawks’ post presence has been arguably their biggest area of concern so far this year. For Udeh, it’s the latest step in a game-by-game process of getting comfortable with what Self is looking for out of the freshman.
“I feel like tonight I did what I needed to do to help the team get a win,” Udeh said.
Thursday marked the second game in a row in which Adams reached double figures, something he never did in the first 44 games of his career.
“He’s been huge,” McCullar said in regard to Adams. “He can do so many different things … He makes everybody better on both ends of the floor.”
Kansas shot 56.9% from the floor as a team and 41.2% from beyond the arc, and in the second half alone the Jayhawks shot 66.7% overall. Seton Hall shot 43.8% for the game but was held to just 21.1% from three.
“We never guarded them, but we rebounded the ball decently and we got a lot of steals,” Self said. “I thought offensively, even though it wasn’t our best, we had a lot of guys contribute and we had some balance.”
This was the first meeting between the Jayhawks and Pirates since the second round of the 2018 NCAA tournament, a game KU narrowly won in Wichita. Kansas also now leads the all-time head-to-head series 3-1.
By winning, KU also helped the Big 12 take the lead in this year’s Big East-Big 12 Battle in what’s now the fourth year of the competition. TCU, Texas and Texas Tech have also earned wins for the Big 12 in the event, while Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State all have losses. The final three games of the battle will be played over the weekend.
As for the Jayhawks, they won’t play another game for over a week, with the next game coming up a week from Saturday on the road against the Missouri Tigers. KU has played five games over the last eight days entering this week off of head-t0-head competition, something that Self is looking forward to.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t rested before we play Mizzou,” Self said.
That game is scheduled for a 4:15 p.m. tip in Columbia on Dec. 10.
Click below to hear from Bill Self and the Jayhawks following KU’s 91-65 win over Seton Hall.