No. 5 Kansas holds off stubborn Eastern Illinois

No. 5 Kansas holds off stubborn Eastern Illinois

Hunter Dickinson collected 25 points and 13 rebounds to lift No. 5 Kansas to a 71-63 victory over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday in Lawrence, Kan.Dickinson made his first seven shots and finished 11-f

Hunter Dickinson collected 25 points and 13 rebounds to lift No. 5 Kansas to a 71-63 victory over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday in Lawrence, Kan.

Dickinson made his first seven shots and finished 11-for-15.

Kevin McCullar Jr. scored 18 points and K.J. Adams Jr. added 10 for the Jayhawks (6-1), who were unable to shake the pesky Panthers (3-5) until late in the second half.

Kansas shot a robust 50 percent (28 of 56) to overcome a dismal performance from 3-point range (3-for-14). The Jayhawks had 11 steals and 11 blocks.

Tiger Booker scored 20 points off the bench and Nakyel Shelton and Kooper Jacobi each had 14 for Eastern Illinois, which fell to 0-5 on the road this season.

The Panthers trimmed a 13-point halftime deficit down to one, 59-58, with 5:04 remaining after a pair of free throws from Booker.

Dickinson converted a three-point play and McCullar made a layup to extend Kansas’ advantage to six points before Shelton sank a 3-pointer to halve the deficit with 3:28 left.

Undaunted, Dickinson made a layup and McCullar added a dunk to effectively keep Eastern Illinois at bay.

Eastern Illinois scored 15 of the first 19 points of the second half to shave its deficit to 42-40. Jacobi drained a 3-pointer and a jumper, and Dan Luers added a bucket and a 3-point play to highlight the surge.

Kansas created a bit of breathing room before Jacobi sank another 3-pointer to bring the Panthers back within two at 47-45. McCullar, however, made a layup and a three-point play and Adams added a jumper to highlight the Jayhawks’ 8-2 run.

Kansas bolted out of the blocks as Dickinson made a pair of quick layups to highlight his team’s 8-0 run to start the game. Eastern Illinois cut its deficit to three points before Dickinson stepped up his game. He dominated the interior and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds to help the Jayhawks seize a 38-25 lead at intermission.