Jayhawks overwhelmed, Self ejected in blowout loss at Texas Tech

photo by: AP Photo/Justin Rex

Kansas center Hunter Dickinson brings down a rebound against Texas Tech guard Darrion Williams (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Lubbock, Texas.

Lubbock, Texas — With Kansas missing its top all-around player in Kevin McCullar Jr. for the second game in a row, the Jayhawks needed to get strong offensive contributions from all three of its veteran starters: KJ Adams, Hunter Dickinson and Dajuan Harris Jr.

Instead, that trio had shot a combined 3-for-19 from the field at Texas Tech by halftime as KU trailed by double digits for much of the first period thanks to the Red Raiders’ sharp 3-point shooting. But even then the Jayhawks only trailed by nine points.

That single-digit deficit was a distant memory in the second half Monday night.

The Jayhawks finished a 32.7% shooting performance much as they started it — with disjointed, ineffectual offense — and never came close to eroding Tech’s advantage after the break, then slumped to a lopsided 79-50 defeat, their fifth overall loss in six conference road games this year.

“They just were the better team,” Dickinson said postgame. “I mean, I think there’s kind of no way around it. They just played better in every facet of the game. That’s kind of what it felt like out there.”

The blowout at United Supermarkets Arena ended in acrimonious fashion, with KU coach Bill Self ejected following a pair of technical fouls with 5:49 remaining.

In an inversion of practically every KU game this season, a pair of freshmen in Elmarko Jackson and Johnny Furphy led the charge, along with much-maligned sixth-year transfer Nick Timberlake. Furphy and Timberlake had 13 each to lead the Jayhawks.

“Just learn from it, build off of it, get back in the gym, be ready to practice tomorrow,” Timberlake said postgame.

Of his own struggles shooting inside (he went 2-for-12 in all), Dickinson said, “I don’t know. I feel like if I knew the answer I would have made the adjustment.”

“I think that most of the credit should go to them for how they defended (Adams and Dickinson),” Self said. “Those two guys, throughout the year and even in league play, have scored the ball and shot the ball pretty effectively for us. I thought we missed three or four in the first half which are the same shots that we’ve been making, but I also thought their defense pushed us out where we’re taking a little bit harder shots than what we’re used to taking, too.”

Sophomore guard Darrion Williams was outstanding for Tech as he went 12-for-12 and racked up a career-high 30 points with 11 rebounds. Warren Washington got 11 points in the post.

“On six of the eight players that played, we actually did a good job on six of the eight,” Self said. “It’s just that the other two went 17 of 19. Williams was fabulous. He was great. But we didn’t do anything to take him away. Then we tried switching five because we couldn’t guard the ball screens, and that created more mismatches.”

The Red Raiders jumped out to an early eight-point lead behind 3-pointers by Williams, Chance McMillian and Joe Toussaint, but promptly went cold for nearly five minutes. KU rallied to tie with a sequence in which Jackson took a charge from Pop Isaacs and then made a pull-up jumper at the other end.

A media timeout seemed to do the trick for Tech as it connected five additional times from beyond the arc to reestablish a 27-14 advantage and boost its early 3-point percentage to 67% on 8-for-12 shooting. Meanwhile, KU made just five of its first 17 shots of any kind.

The Jayhawks were able to claw their way back into a single-digit deficit by halftime thanks to the efforts of Timberlake, who made a corner 3 and then muscled his way inside for a three-point play at the rim. After a foul on the ground by Adams, with walk-on Wilder Evers in the game playing defense, Texas Tech got a good look on an inbound play in the final seconds but Kerwin Walton couldn’t convert and the Red Raiders led just 37-28.

“We got it under 10, which is always, from a mindset standpoint, everybody says that’s a positive,” Self said. “But the way that we scored, the way that they got looks, I don’t think that there was ever a momentum, positive momentum thing with us.”

Williams helped them build some distance with a corner 3 over Dickinson three and a half minutes into the second period, then another to make it 51-33 two minutes later and give Tech its largest lead.

“They scored six straight or whatever it was and just kept us at arm’s length the whole night,” Self said. “We never put any game pressure on them.”

Jackson’s hard-charging layup with 10:54 to go closed a stretch of more than four minutes in which neither team scored.

After Dickinson got whistled for an offensive foul with 5:49 to go, Self got assessed two technicals for arguing the call and ejected.

The Jayhawks, who fell to 19-6 (7-5 Big 12 Conference) will go back out on the road to face Oklahoma (18-6, 6-5 Big 12) Saturday at 3 p.m.

“That’s as bad as we’ve been beaten in 20 years,” said Self, and indeed it was the worst conference loss by final margin of his KU tenure.

He said he wasn’t sure whether he would give his team the next two days off, as he had following last Monday’s game at Kansas State.

“I’m going to do what’s best, try to do what’s best in my opinion, that gives us the best chance to go to OU and play better,” Self said. “We got a week off next week, so that’ll be good for us. But we need to get our legs back under us. It’s not an excuse, but it is something that needs to happen.”

Box score


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