Dickinson, Adams discuss managing McCullar’s absence in tight win over Baylor
Senior center Hunter Dickinson and junior forward KJ Adams – who combined for 28 points to help Kansas pass No. 13 Baylor 64-61 at home on Saturday night – had little to say about the final sequence that nearly forced the contest into overtime or worse.
Instead, the upperclassmen duo focused on how KU (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) filled the hole left by star guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (knee) in the starting lineup. The lineup change saw senior guard Nick Timberlake get the start over freshman Elmarko Jackson.
There was no time to worry about the veteran McCullar’s absence and an aggressive mindset was essential, Adams said.
“Coach (Self) really told us to just let it go,” Adams said. “We have a bunch of really good bench players and people that have to step up. When Kevin’s out, you have to account for a lot of rebounds and a lot of points.”
Save for Timberlake (eight points), the remainder of the KU starting lineup – Dickinson (14), senior guard Dajuan Harris (14), Adams (13) and freshman guard Johnny Furphy (11) – all rose to double-figure scoring to aid the fight against a Top-15 Bears team.
Baylor freshman forward Yves Missi, who dropped a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds, finished the second half a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line (9-for-12 total) to keep the Bears right in the mix until the very end.
Missi has a knack for slipping out of ball screens, Dickinson said.
“That puts a lot of pressure on our defense,” Dickinson said. “I think my teammates did a really good job of loading up and not letting him get those rolling vibes we saw on film.”
Freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter’s (17 points) meaningful production lightened Missi’s load in the second half. Junior guard Jayden Nunn (eight points) added to Baylor’s chances late, nailing a 3-point bucket that put the Bears within five points of KU with five minutes to go.
Dickinson credited Timberlake’s role in the second half, singling out the Towson transfer’s breakaway steal resulting in a roof-shaking dunk placing KU ahead by 12 points with under eight minutes to go.
“He just came out aggressive and tried to make an impact out there,” Dickinson said. “I think that was huge for us.”
But Timberlake found himself in hot water late, handing Baylor – which was down 64-61 with 14 seconds left – possession on a missed pass out of bounds. After rebounding a 3-point try on the other end, Timberlake then missed his one-and-one attempt before Walter’s game-saving 3 fell short.
KU now looks to add another win to its conference slate, traveling to Lubbock to challenge No. 23 Texas Tech.