LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jalen Wilson scored a career-high 33 points and No. 6 Kansas survived a letdown against Southern Utah, hanging on for an 82-76 victory on Friday night.
Wilson set a career-best for a second straight game after scoring 25 points in the Jayhawks’ 69-64 win over No. 7 Duke in Indianapolis on Tuesday night. The Thunderbirds (3-2) didn’t figure to provide as tough a challenge, but they hung with Kansas (4-0) until the final minute at Allen Fieldhouse.
Good thing Wilson came to play.
“He was terrific,” interim coach Norm Roberts said. “He was really efficient. He made some big plays for us.”
That was about it for praise from Roberts after the game.
“We weren’t very good, but give them credit,” he said. “They played really well. They made some key shots. We were just off in everything we did.
“They played exactly how we thought they were going to play. We just didn’t have good body movement and we talked about that before the game. We had so many ill-advised turnovers that they did nothing to cause. We’ve got to clean up a lot of that.”
Thunderbirds’ coach Todd Simon tweeted after the game: “At Kansas, the toughest place to play in college basketball vs. the defending National champions …2 5 lead changes & a chance in the final minute. Not the outcome we wanted but proud of the way our guys represented Southern Utah & our program!”
The Jayhawks had their biggest lead of the game, 77-69, with 2:11 remaining. Southern Utah responded with a 7-0 run, including five straight points by Tevian Jones, to get within one point with 1:03 left.
Gradey Dick’s 3-pointer with 40.6 seconds remaining made it 80-76 and Southern Utah didn’t make another basket.
“I knew it was a close game, obviously,” Dick said. “KJ (Adams) got the offensive rebound. I felt open and took the shot.”
Roberts coached his final game for Kansas in place of Bill Self, who served the last of his school-imposed four-game suspension stemming from recruiting violations first uncovered in a federal investigation.
Jones scored 25 points for Southern Utah, Maizen Fausett added 14 and Harrison Butler had 12.
Southern Utah outrebounded Kansas 45-41, including 14-6 on the offensive glass. The Thunderbirds hit four of their first seven 3-point attempts to build a 22-16 lead in the first half. Wilson had the final two baskets before halftime to give the Jayhawks a 41-39 edge.
Southern Utah next heads to Laie, Hawaii, to face Texas State next Friday in the opening round of the North Shore Classic.
Written by DAVID SMALE, The Associated Press
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