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Battle-tested Kansas romps past Mizzou, knocking rivals from unbeaten ranks

K.J. Adams Jr.
Kevin McCullar Jr., Gradey Dick
Kansas Missouri Basketball
Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-10 20:48:58-05

COLUMBIA, Mo. — It had been more than a decade since Kansas and Mizzou met in Columbia for a men’s basketball Border Showdown, but the passion for college basketball’s 10th-most-played rivalry remains high.

During the hours before the doors to Mizzou Arena opened Saturday, students stood outside booing anyone and everything that drew near in crimson and blue.

As soon as the arena doors cracked open, students dashed to fill in an overflowing student section and launched into an hours-long cacophony of cheers, boos and vulgarity — including an R-rated version of “Mr. Brightside,” a millennial anthem by The Killers.

“Our fans were definitely out, and it was a beautiful sight to see in Mizzou Arena,” first-year Tigers coach Dennis Gates said.

The crowd kept up that energy for as long as it could before the undefeated Tigers wilted, especially on defense, against the sixth-ranked Jayhawks in a 95-67 loss.

“It was nice. The crowd was very welcoming,” Kansas coach Bill Self said with his trademark impish smile. “In all honesty, you want to be in environments where people care, and it was obviously a very caring environment today. Mizzou turned out, and the crowd was great.”

Kansas (9-1) scored the first nine points in the second half, ending any hopes for Mizzou to rally from a 17-point halftime deficit.

The Tigers (9-1) never again clawed closer than 15 points as first-year coach Dennis Gates’ unbeaten start with the program came to a lopsided end.

While it was a better showing for Mizzou than last season’s 102-65 loss at Allen Fieldhouse, it had to sting to hear the “Rock Chalk” chant ring out during the final minute.

“I’m not happy about the outcome, my players aren’t happy, our fans aren’t happy, but we have to learn from it and we will,” Gates said.

KU guard Gradey Dick, a highly touted freshman sharpshooter from the Wichita area, went scorched earth in the first 12 1/2 minutes. He scored 15 — making all six shots attempts, including three three-pointers — as the Jayhawks built a double-digit cushion and took some steam out of the sellout crowd.

Junior forward Jalen Wilson finished with a game-high 24 points, including 17 in the second half, and a game-best 10 rebounds, while Kevin McCullar Jr. added 21 points, including 14 in the second half.

Junior KJ Adams Jr., who scored 19 on 9 of 11 shooting, dominated inside for KU, which won the battle for points in the paint 46-28 and outscored Mizzou 22-10 in transition.

Dick finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Columbia native Dajuan Harris, who started at point guard on KU's national championship team last season, dished nine assists — one more than the Tigers had as a team — and had the best plus-minus of any player on the floor in the game at plus-33.

Nick Honor and D’Moi Hodge led Mizzou with 15 points apiece, while Noah Carter finished with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, which matched Hodge.

“We don’t really lose as a team; we learn,” Carter said. “This was a lesson for us, so just regrouping, staying with our brotherhood, connecting more after this loss, and just building from it is the most important thing.”

The Jayhawks’ first two shots clanged off the rim to start the game, but the next 11 dropped as Self’s squad built a double-digit advantage.

Dick made all five of his shots, including a pair of three-pointers, during that stretch, which ended with Kansas up 28-16.

“The start of the game, that’s about as well as we’ve played for any stretch,“ Self said. “We got good looks and passed it great and handled pressure well. We got lucky they missed some shots they probably normally make, but that first 10 minutes was pretty good.”

The crowd did its best to stay engaged, but the Jayhawks’ efficiency took a toll.

Midway through the first half, Aidan Shaw slipped free along the baseline and took a nifty bounce pass from Kobe Brown.

Adams met Shaw, a Blue Valley graduate, at the rim and blocked a dunk attempt that threatened to re-energize the Mizzou Arena crowd.

Instead, it became one of eight straight misfires from the Tigers as the Jayhawks’ lead grew to 36-19, including another three-pointer from Dick, who had 15 points before he finally missed a three from the corner with 7:23 remaining before halftime.

Shaw got his revenge around the 6-minute mark when he rejected Dick as he soared in for his own dunk try.

A minute later, Shaw got out in transition and hammered home a dunk over Dick off a lob from Nick Honor as Mizzou tried to fight back from a 19-point deficit.

Honor hit a three-pointer with 1:38 left before halftime, which drew the Tigers within 13, but Jalen Wilson countered with his own three as the Jayhawks closed the first half up 50-33.

Kansas shot nearly 65% from the field, including 6 of 10 from long range, while Mizzou only shot 33%, including a meager 3 of 13 performance from distance.

Dick and Adams each had 15 in the first half.

KU stretched its lead to 59-33 in the opening minutes of the second half and never looked back in winning its first true road game of the season.

The Jayhawks lead the overall series 176-95, according to its official record book, while the Tigers claim the series record is 174-95.