BLOG: Jalen Wilson’s 20-point night takes him to the top of the ratings one last time
Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) is defended by Arkansas guard Ricky Council IV (1) in the second half on Saturday, March 18, 2023 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Nick Krug
1 – Jalen Wilson – Wilson ended his stellar junior season with a 20-point performance that was narrowly missed. Capping that run with that kind of night on this stage, however, was a good way to go out in an individual sense. Give a ton of credit to Jordan Walsh from Arkansas for the work he did on Wilson. He made everything difficult for him, harassing him all night, staying connected with him and also confining him to the glass. Wilson could go down as the only Kansas player to only get called on about 50% of the fouls he earned. He never whined about it, except for the occasional “are you serious” look. Wilson missed a pair of free throws he was trying to make and made one that he was trying to miss. It was just that kind of night for him and the Jayhawks.
2 – Kevin McCullar Jr – With Wilson on the bench and KJ Adams in terrible trouble and Harris with an ankle injury, McCullar really ailed and almost carried Kansas to a win. He hit a couple of big shots, seemed comfortable in the lead dog role with the ball in his hands and delivered. The two missed free throws from a guy who didn’t seem to have missed even one in the past month or so was the first indication that this night could end badly for Kansas. And while he undoubtedly regretted them, they weren’t meant to be what McCullar’s night is remembered for. He fought to the bitter end, giving Kansas everything he had during his lonely year as a Jayhawk. They can’t all end up like Remy Martin’s one year at KU.
3 – KJ Adams – Adams claims third place here for both what Kansas couldn’t do with him on the bench and what he did while he was in the game. Adams was a difference maker in the middle of the floor and Arkansas didn’t really have an answer for him, his speed, athleticism or strength. However, he only played 25 minutes due to foul problems and that really hurt Kansas’ chances. I’m not one to get tangled up in office, especially in this area, but I think Adams was the victim of a terrible whistle in this case and it may have cost the Jayhawks. KJ was a plus-6 on his plus/minus rating in that game, which tells you how much better Kansas was when he was out there.
4 – Dajuan Harris Jr – Give Harris all credit for gutting it and playing every 20 minutes, but there’s no doubt he was affected by the injured ankle. He had a lot of good moments, even after the injury, but it was a factor. Harris’ 10-second offense was one of the most confusing moments of a wild game, and he too missed a couple of free throws that ended up really hurting. The biggest factor Harris was involved in, however, came when he injured his ankle – no less than landing it on an Arkansas photographer – and how the injury likely kept KU from expanding their lead from eight to double digits before halftime . The Jayhawks really simmered when that happened, and while they had plenty of chances to still win, looking back it sure seemed like a pretty massive moment.
5 – Gradey Dick – Gradey was good on the glass again, leading the team by 7 boards. And he did. But his defensive problems took center stage on this occasion as Arkansas continued to attack him in half court and found plenty of success. It wasn’t his best night of shooting either, as he totaled 3 of 9 shots and just one 3-point shot in what might be his last game as a Jayhawk. There will be much, much more to come in the coming days and weeks.
6 – Ernest Udeh Jr – Udeh looked like he was ready for a big night as he picked up a huge block seconds after the initial check-in. He also fouled a few seconds later. And then fouled more and more, much like all the big men of KU who were plagued by foul troubles all night. In a game decided by a point, every little game is magnified when you look back at how things went. Not only were Udeh’s fouls big, he also had two cracks on a rabbit from close range and failed to convert. He also just grabbed a rebound.
7 – Zuby Ejiofor – Ejiofor was called into action due to nasty problems and actually played quite well considering he probably wasn’t really expecting to play much but showed he was ready when the need arose. Finished with 2 rebounds and a block plus a foul in seven minutes.
8 – Bobby Pettiford – Pettiford did an admirable job filling in for Harris when he had to leave the game but didn’t have much to show in terms of stats. The one bucket he scored was sort of a Johnny-on-the-spot thing where the Arkansas player just lost the ball and Bobby picked it up and raced to the other end for a hard transition two. There’s nothing left to show for his 7 minutes on the stat sheet and Pettiford will be entering the offseason and will need some serious work to figure out how to stay healthy and how to make the leap from rarely used bench piece to reliable rotary type.
9 – Joe Yesufu – Yesufu needed to improve in this game and he only played eight minutes while KU’s bench was beaten 18-5. Three of those five came in the first half after a deep, shotclock-beating 3-pointer from Yesufu, which was definitely a heads-up game and had shades from Christian Braun vs. Villanova in last year’s Final Four. It never really clicked for Joe, who people kept wanting to see more of but never really did, either for lack of opportunity or because he wasn’t always ready to take the call or challenge.
10 – Zach Clemence – Clemence played 3 minutes, fouled twice and missed a 3-pointer which the KU coaching staff weren’t too thrilled about as it came while in possession. Clemence is a gunner and that’s part of his charm. But when you don’t play a lot it’s hard to get into the fire and the times he’s made this season, including Saturday night, haven’t usually gone that well.
end of season
1—Jalen Wilson, 293
2 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 264
3 – Gradey Dick, 234
4 – KJ Adams, 229
5 – Kevin McCullar Jr., 228o
6 – Joe Yesufu, 128
7 – Bobby Pettiford, 123
8 – Ernest Udeh Jr., 105
9 – MJ Reis, 71 years old
10 – Zuby Ejiofor, 69 u
11 – Zach Clemence, 47z
12 – Cam Martin, 11q
13 – Kyle Cuff Jr., 2x
*x – Out for 10-12 weeks with a knee injury as of Nov 13*
*y – missed 3 of the first 5 games of the season due to injury and illness; also suspended games due to COVID, kidney stones and back spasms*
*z – Duke, Southern Utah and NC State missed games due to injury. Also injured a knee in a road loss in Iowa state causing him to miss more time*
*o – Missed November 29 game against Texas Southern with a groin injury; Also missed Big 12 title game with back spasms*
*q – Missed the first nine games of the season with a shoulder injury*
*u – Missed a few weeks in the middle of the Big 12 season with a foot injury*
Jayhawks fail to overcome offcourt foul problems in Round of 32 loss to Razorbacks