Kansas Jayhawks basketball team experiencing strange phenomenon in recent home games

The Kansas basketball team has won it's last three home games despite the fact they've been without arguably their best all-around player in Kevin McCullar Jr.

KansasJayhawks star Kevin McCullar Jr.
KansasJayhawks star Kevin McCullar Jr. / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Credit the Phog. Credit good coaching. Credit players stepping it up. However you want to spin it, something special has been happening in the last three Kansas basketball games in Allen Fieldhouse.

Despite missing arguably their best overall player, the Jayhawks are 3-0 in their last few home games with relative ease. When you consider how important Kevin McCullar Jr. is to this team, and the much-discussed lack of depth, it has been incredible to see how well KU has played at home without him.

No one wants to remember the debacle at Texas Tech, where without McCullar, the Jayhawks were run out of the gym for their only loss in the four games he's had to sit. Instead, what is going right for Kansas in the games they won, all within the friendly confines of the Phog, should be the focus.

Why have the Kansas Jayhawks played well at home without Kevin McCullar Jr.?

The main reason Kansas has survived has been because Nick Timberlake has really picked up his game and finally showed the fans what the coaching staff has seen in him. In the four games McCullar hasn't played, Timberlake has averaged 29 minutes a game, well above his 13-minute average for the season.

He's also averaged ten points a game, including 13 in each of his last two starts, compared to averaging just 4 points a game in all other contests. The transfer from Towson has clearly flourished with his opportunity to play more minutes.

Freshmen Elmarko Jackson and Jamari McDowell also have both played better and more loosely than they have all season. Maybe it is because they know they are going to have to contribute a little more and can play more loosely and relaxed, realizing they won't be yanked as quickly for making a mistake here or there.

Neither is playing perfectly, but both are showing glimpses of what they might offer this team in the future, not only next season and beyond, but even for the rest of this season.

Another reason for their better play at home of late is certainly the continued improvement of Johnny Furphy in several aspects of the game. Over the last ten outings, he has averaged 7.1 rebounds a game, nearly 14 points a game, and 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals. He has become a well-rounded, exciting player who could be a legitimate national player of the year candidate next year if he stays at Kansas for another year.

Will Kevin McCullar Jr. return any time soon?

It looks like the Kansas basketball team may be without McCullar for the BYU game at home on Tuesday, and maybe longer. The eight-man squad is gong to need to continue to get better and, hopefully, will be hitting their full stride once postseason arrives.

KU will be running a bit of a gauntlet over the last four games of the regular season, and they will need to finish very strong to overcome the two-win margin that separates them and Houston. Kansas has a scrappy BYU team and in-state Kansas State at home, but away games at Baylor and Houston. The Jayhawks need to continue their home dominance and they must figure out their road woes over these last two weeks.

McCullar may have to rest his injured knee for a few more games, but hopefully, he'll be back in time for the Big 12 Tournament and March Madness. Despite the improvement Kansas is showing right now, they will need McCullar for deep runs in both tournaments. Here's hoping the young man can get healthy soon.

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