The Kansas Jayhawks took an early lead and never left any doubt in their season opener, smashing the North Carolina Central Eagles 99-56.
KU, the No. 1 team in the preseason AP Top 25 poll, scored its first basket merely 23 seconds into the game and never relinquished it. That first basket, as well as the next two, belonged to senior center Hunter Dickinson, who paced all scorers with 17 points in the first half. One of three Jayhawks on the Naismith Award watch list this season, Dickinson racked up 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 3-of-3 from three-point range in his regular-season debut at Allen Fieldhouse.
“That was fun,” Dickinson said. “I’m used to the opposing fans being this loud and more boos than cheers, so it was real fun to have people on my side for once.”
Dickinson earned the praise of Eagles coach LeVelle Moton, too, who referred too the Michigan transfer as “a problem.”
Senior guard Kevin McCullar, also on the Naismith Award watch list, led all scorers on Monday night with 22 points, also collecting six rebounds and five assists while knocking down four three pointers. That’s the first time since coming to Kansas and just the second time in his entire career that he made four shots from beyond the arc.
Three other Jayhawks also cracked double figures in the win, including senior guard Nick Timberlake with 13 points, junior forward K.J. Adams with 12 and senior center Parker Braun with 10.
Senior guard Dajuan Harris didn’t attempt a single field goal or free throw, but did lead all players with 10 assists.
“He’s a difference maker,” Timberlake said regarding Harris. “I’m very grateful getting to play with him this year.”
It was an especially efficient shooting night for KU, which shot 69.6% from the floor as a team and 56.5% from three-point range. What’s more, it tallied 34 assists on 39 made field goals. North Carolina Central, meanwhile, shot 35.1% as a team by the end of the game after making just 7-of-30 shots in the first half.
“I think a lot of people might’ve overreacted to the first two games,” Dickinson said. “We’ve got a lot of talented players on this team, especially when it comes to shooting threes.”
The Jayhawks will be back home on Friday night when they take on the Manhattan Jaspers. That game is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start in Lawrence.
For more on the Kansas Jayhawks’ 99-56 win over the North Carolina Central Eagles, check out 580 Sports Talk Tuesday from 2-6 on 580 WIBW.