But the night before he was scheduled to depart for his mother Yvonne’s funeral, he stepped up to the free throw line with two seconds remaining and protected a slim two-point lead by sinking both to ice the game.
“This game belonged to one person, and it’s that dude sitting right there,” a choked-up Kansas coach Bill Self told his players after the game.”For him to play for you guys the way he did tonight, knowing he’s got to get on a plane to go say goodbye tomorrow morning…wow. Stud.”
“He’s not the best free throw shooter in the country,” Self added with a wry grin. “But tonight, put that dude on the line. Because it was bigger than a normal free throw.”
Adams Jr. finished the win with 18 points, going 6-for-9 from the charity stripe and shooting 60 percent from the floor in 38 minutes; and was one of three starters in double-figures for the Kansas.
Since falling to No. 3 Marquette at the Maui Invitational, Self’s squad has responded with two top-10 wins in three contests, a clear indication that the dubious history set by North Carolina last year won’t repeat in 2023.
The Tar Heels came into the 2022-23 season with a preseason No. 1 ranking thanks to their magical run to the Final Four that ended with a loss to Kansas in the title game. Despite running back the same four core pieces, chemistry and depth issues plagued UNC all season and led to them becoming the first preseason AP No. 1 team to miss the NCAA Tournament.
Excellence is the perennial standard for Self and the Jayhawks, and there’s little reason to suspect anything less going forward in 2023-24