If one removes the incomparable, unstoppable Wilt Chamberlain from the equation, Kansas senior center Hunter Dickinson on Tuesday had one of the best games on the glass in KU men’s basketball history.
The 7-foot-2, 260-pound Dickinson’s career-high 21 rebound effort in the Jayhawks’ 89-84 victory over Kentucky at Chicago’s United Center tied Thomas Robinson and Drew Gooden for seventh best single-game rebound outing in KU history in games not involving legendary Hall of Famer Chamberlain.
Bill Bridges grabbed 30 rebounds against Northwestern in 1960, while Dave Robisch had 26 versus Iowa State in 1970. Bridges had 24 against Nebraska in 1959 and again against the Huskers in 1960. Lew Johnson secured 24 rebounds against Oklahoma in 1955 and Nick Collison pulled down 23 against Texas in 2003.
Robinson tallied 21 rebounds against North Dakota during the 2011-12 season. Gooden had 21 against Texas Tech in 2002 and South Carolina State in 2001.
Dickinson duplicated that number versus the No. 17-ranked Wildcats and in so doing set a single-game rebound record for the 13-year-old Champions Classic. He passed UK’s Oscar Tshiebwe, who had 20 against Duke in 2021.
At 21, Robinson and Dickinson are tied for the most boards in a game in the 21-year Bill Self era.
Jeff Withey secured 20 rebounds versus Oklahoma State in 2012, while Cole Aldrich had 20 versus Oklahoma and again against Dayton in 2009. Udoka Azubuike had 19 rebounds vs. Baylor in 2020.
Chamberlain, by the way, holds the KU single-game rebound record. He had 36 against Iowa State in 1958 and also had high-rebound games of 31 (vs. Northwestern, 1957), 28 (vs. Washington in 1957), 27 (vs. Missouri in ’58). He had 24 vs. Iowa State twice and Wisconsin once in his two-year KU career..
“He’s a good player,” Kentucky guard/forward Adou Thiero said of Dickinson.
Thiero, a 6-8, 222 sophomore from Leetsdale, Pennsylvania, scored 16 points with 13 rebounds in 31 minutes vs. KU. Dickinson, who also had 27 points, did his damage in 37 minutes.
“He was able to get to his spots, get in the post, go up and finish it. He was talking a decent bit of smack, but it’s part of the game so it’s all love,” Thiero added.
Dickinson had 15 defensive rebounds on Tuesday in Chicago.
“Coach Self told him that he should get 10 rebounds a game, but I didn’t even know he had 21 rebounds until Coach said it in the locker room just now,” said KU point guard Dajuan Harris, who scored a career-high 23 points on 7-of-12 (58.3%) shooting, including a career-high-tying five 3-pointers to go along with his seven assists.
‘But we need him to be a monster,” Harris said. “That’s why we got him, and I think that was probably his best game probably in college.”
Harris added that having Dickinson man the middle “makes it easier for me, Kevin (McCullar) and KJ (Adams) because we all three are playmakers and can pass the ball, and then we have one of the best playbooks in the game.
“He’s a 7-footer, what we needed last year, and he has one of the softest touches in the country. So we give him the ball, he’s going to make something happen. He’s a great passer, too. He had a great game for us.”
Here are some more tidbits of information involving Dickinson’s huge game Tuesday:
• Dickinson is the first Big 12 player with a 25 point/20 rebound game against a ranked opponent since Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin tallied 25 points and 21 rebounds against No. 21 Davidson on Nov. 18, 2008.
• Dickinson is the first KU player with a 25 and 20 game since Robinson on Dec. 31, 2011 vs. North Dakota (30 points, 21 rebounds).
• A Kansas player has not had 25+ points and 20+ rebounds against a ranked opponent since at least the 1996-97 season.
• Dickinson is the fourth Kansas player (fifth occasion) in the history of the Champions Classic — which began in 2011 — to record a double-double. He joined Robinson in 2011 (11 points, 12 rebounds), Dedric Lawson in 2018 (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Jalen Wilson in 2020 (23 points, 10 rebounds) and 2022 (25 points, 11 rebounds). McCullar had a triple-double Tuesday.
• Dickinson made a career-high 10 free throws Tuesday. He shot 10-of-11 (90.9%) from the line.
Dickinson said he was especially pleased the Jayhawks (3-0) were able to overcome a 14-point second-half deficit against No. 17-ranked UK (2-1).
“They’re the University of Kentucky. They’re always going to be talented,” Dickinson said. “Every team in this Champions Classic is here for a reason. It’s the best of the best.
“We feel like we’re one of the best teams in the country. That’s why we’re ranked No. 1. ... So it was good to go out there and go face-to-face with (another) one of the best in the country.”