What KU’s Self, Harris and Timberlake thought of Nick’s slam-dunk versus Texas

Kansas senior combo guard Nick Timberlake raced toward the north goal on a two-on-one fast-break opportunity made possible by a Dajuan Harris steal at quarter-court.

There was 8 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half of the No. 9-ranked Jayhawks’ 86-67 victory over Texas on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Senior point guard Harris, running full speed on the right side of James Naismith Court, lofted a one-handed lob pass from just past the 3-point line to the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Timberlake, who beat UT’s Dylan Disu from the left wing to the cylinder.

Timberlake caught the Harris offering with two hands and finished a spectacular dunk that sent the 6-9, 225-pound Disu tumbling to the floor.

The slam, which gave KU an early 25-15 lead, rivals Timberlake’s dunk over Oklahoma State’s Bryce Thompson on Jan. 16 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, as one of KU’s most exciting plays of the 2023-24 season.

“With Nick I usually throw a chest pass. He gets mad at me and tells me to throw the ball up,” said Harris, who had six assists against no turnovers to go with 14 points in the rout of UT. “I told him (recently), ’Next time we go on the fastbreak I’m going to throw it up to you.’ I threw it up. He dunked it. I think that got it started for him,” Harris added.

Timberlake, in his one and only season at KU after transferring from Towson, scored 13 points versus Texas on 3-of-6 shooting . He was 1-of-3 from 3 and 6-of-8 from the line.

“He definitely is athletic,” Harris said.

KU coach Bill Self would agree.

“He is an athlete. There’s no doubt about that. I thought Nick was great,” Self said after KU improved to 21-6 overall and 9-5 in Big 12 play. UT fell to 6-8 in the league and 17-10 overall.

Timberlake rates Saturday’s dunk a bit ahead of his slam at OSU on the degree of difficulty scale.

“That was probably the craziest one I’ve had. The Oklahoma State one was up there,” Timberlake said. “I don’t even know how I topped it. Me and Juando locked eyes at halfcourt. It happened a couple weeks ago (that) there was a fastbreak. I forget what game. I was like,’Hey just throw it. I’ll catch it.’ I wasn’t expecting him to throw it in traffic. I just caught it. The rest is what it was.”

Timberlake, who comes off the bench when Kevin McCullar is healthy, started his third game as a Jayhawk on Saturday. He was one of five starters to score in double figures.

The bench was productive.

Jamari McDowell had five points, three rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes. Elmarko Jackson didn’t take a shot but had four assists and a steal in 14 minutes. Parker Braun had two blocks and a dunk in seven minutes.

“We all got a lot of minutes tonight. It was great,” Timberlake said. “When ‘Kev’ is here he’s going to do his thing and the rest follows with that. I think it’s better for me from a mental spot seeing the ball go through the hoop and getting a lot of minutes.”

He scored the game’s first two points on a driving layup.

“When ‘Kev’ comes back there might be a little lull but I can go out there and do the things I’ve been doing with Kevin when Kevin is on the court healthy again,” Timberlake said.

Of the bench play, Timberlake said: “It’s important. We’ve been learning through the whole year. I’m a little older than the freshmen (McDowell and Jackson). But I was at a different school (Towson) five years. It took a while (to learn the KU system). I’m just glad the way we are playing especially the bench. We know we’ll be a huge part in March when it comes around. It will be fun to see.”

KU will next meet BYU at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse. Self said McCullar, who has a bone bruise on his knee, will not play in the game, meaning Timberlake will get the start. KU will then play Baylor in a noon tip on Saturday in Waco, Texas.