KU takes first home loss of the year in foul-laden battle with BYU

Kansas center Hunter Dickinson huddles with his team during the game against BYU on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas coach Bill Self was eerily prescient when he spoke to the media Monday ahead of Tuesday night’s matchup with BYU.

“The other day (against Texas) we made three 3s and played really well,” Self said. “If they make 13 3s they’ve already outscored you (by) 30 points from the field.”

He got the numbers exactly right.

The Cougars shot 13-for-34 from beyond the arc as the Jayhawks went just 3-for-15. On a stop-and-start night that saw BYU assessed with 25 fouls, KU mustered just 17-for-29 free-throw shooting and didn’t have nearly enough offensive production to make up for it as it lost a double-digit lead and took its first home loss of the year, 76-68.

“BYU was better than us tonight,” Self said. “The second half, after we got up 12, the second half, they controlled it. We hoped to score and they actually ran offense to score. Give them credit, they caused us to look bad and they were successful.”

BYU’s Dallin Hall and Jaxson Robinson had 18 points each on a combined seven 3s, as Hall did much of his damage while playing with four fouls. Hunter Dickinson led KU with 17 points and 11 rebounds but was an ice-cold 6-for-15 at the line. Dajuan Harris Jr. (12 points) was called on to salvage one offensive possession after another as the Jayhawks stagnated in the second half.

Asked what the message in the locker room was postgame, freshman guard Johnny Furphy said in part, “Pretty much that they did exactly what we thought they were going to do.”

“You could feel this coming today at shootaround,” Self said. “We had a terrible shootaround, the focus wasn’t very good, the energy level wasn’t as good, and you could feel this coming.”

The officials deployed a quick whistle early and KU took advantage as KJ Adams and Dickinson converted one three-point play each. The Jayhawks struggled defensively after making their first set of three substitutions — following the rotation they had enacted against Texas on Saturday — and the Cougars got as close as 14-13 on a 3-pointer by Robinson.

They maintained that narrow margin for a while before Adams again drove to the hoop for a bucket, this time picking up a foul on Robinson. He missed the ensuing free throw but was able to earn KU another possession by forcing a deflection on a loose ball; after a near-turnover of their own, the Jayhawks managed to work the ball inside to Adams for another bucket that made it 25-18.

The Cougars hit back-to-back 3s, but missed five separate opportunities to tie or take the lead with a third. Furphy returned after committing a pair of early fouls and had a key dunk and pair of free throws, and Adams and Harris scored once apiece from close range to force a timeout by BYU.

In all, KU managed an 8-0 run as BYU went scoreless for four minutes and 38 seconds prior to Robinson’s second 3-pointer of the game, and the Jayhawks led 35-29 at the break.

“That one bothered me a lot,” Self said of the 3-pointer, “because we just said in the timeout, ‘This is exactly what they’re going to do,’ and we didn’t do it.”

An erratic second half for both teams slowed to a crawl thanks to a barrage of foul calls, including five on BYU in the first 2:41. By the time five minutes had elapsed, the Cougars’ Trevin Knell and Hall had four fouls each. In the meantime, the teams traded runs of six points apiece.

Self, who has expressed frustration with the physicality allowed by referees this season, said he thought the officiating Tuesday was perfectly fine, but “It’s a little frustrating — the game was called the way it probably should have been called the whole year long and then it wouldn’t be called the way it was called tonight … because teams would adjust.”

Self had to call timeout with 12:10 to go thanks to a pair of 3s by Robinson — one in transition — that cut the Jayhawks’ lead all the way down to two points as they went more than seven minutes without hitting a shot.

Dickinson missed a string of four straight free throws as the fouls continued, and BYU drew even closer at 51-50.

“Yeah, no, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t (have an effect),” Dickinson said of the missed free throws. “Definitely affected me out there. I do think I got in my head a little bit when I started to miss, and I think that kind of snowballed and really kind of made it hard out there.”

After Dickinson went to the bench, KU was able to briefly stem the tide when Parker Braun drew a charge against Fousseyni Traore, and then the Cougars’ bench was assessed with a technical foul. Harris made a pair of free throws and then tossed an alley-oop to Braun to extend the Jayhawks’ lead to six.

However, a fast-break 3 by Knell and a pair of free throws by Hall allowed BYU to take its first lead of the game at 59-58 with just under five minutes to go. Hall then hit the game’s most important 3-pointer to make it 71-66 with a minute and a half to go.

The Jayhawks, who fell to 21-7 and 9-6 in Big 12 Conference play, will travel to Waco, Texas, for a rematch with No. 15 Baylor at brand new Foster Pavilion on Saturday at 12 p.m. The game will be televised on ABC.

Box score


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