Kansas needed three minutes to turn a meager one-point advantage into a 16-point ambush in its last unofficial outing before the season kicks off on Friday against Louisiana at Monroe. Kansas moved to 63-9 all-time in exhibition play on a night that saw 13 different Jayhawks score, four of those in double figures.
Ellis and Selden led the charge with 13 points apiece. Ellis missed only once, going 3-for-4 from the floor and a perfect 7-for-7 at the free throw line, while Selden shot 5-for-8 and added a pair of assists. Sophomore forward Jamari Traylor set the standard for accuracy with a 4-for-4 shooting night to add 11 points and a team-high four offensive rebounds. Freshman guard Andrew Wiggins rounded out the scoring leaders with 10 points.
Earning the starting nod at point guard, freshman Frank Mason looked anything but rookie when he stripped the ball from a driving Tiger guard, flew down the court and alley-ooped a pass to a dunk-ready Wiggins with less than 10 minutes to play Tuesday night. It marked the last of his assists as the young floor general tied his mentor, junior guard Naadir Tharpe, with six assists.
Freshman guard Conner Frankamp‘s highly-touted sharp shooting led the Jayhawks’ 16-1 run in the first half that ultimately led to the Tigers’ downfall. He finished the night with a pair of treys as did fellow rookie guard Brannen Greene.
Fort Hays State was led by forward Dwayne Brunson and guard Craig Nicholson, who put up 15 and 14 points, respectively. While the Jayhawks shot a red-hot 58 percent in the first half, the Tigers outdid the Jayhawks in the second half (50.0-42.9).
Neither team had shown much heading into the first media timeout, registering just two buckets apiece. Out of the first break, back-to-back jumpers by Brunson handed the Tigers the 9-7 lead five minutes into the half. A three-pointer moments later was enough to force a Kansas timeout, trailing 12-7.
Freshman center Joel Embiid rejected James Fleming’s layup attempt, creating the spark Kansas needed. A three from the corner from Greene and a pair of baskets from Embiid saw the Jayhawks take off on a 12-2 run, and it was the Tigers’ turn to use a timeout. After starting the game a chilly 2-for-7 from the floor, KU’s shooters made six of their next nine to jump back in front.
Though the Tigers crept back into it, cutting the Jayhawk lead to a single point, 21-20, Kansas answered with a little more force the second time around. KU’s second scoring spree of the first half â€“ this one of the 16-1 variety â€“ saw Frankamp hit both of his threes, while his teammates kept FHSU without a field goal for more than five minutes. By the time Tiger center Jared Tadlock broke up the drought, Kansas had surged ahead, 37-23.
When the final media timeout of the opening frame rolled around, Kansas had opened up a 50-28 lead. Three-pointers played a role again, off the hot hand of Greene and sophomore guard Andrew White III. Meanwhile, Wiggins logged his first points of the evening, a dunk with three minutes to play and a floater through the lane a minute later, sending the Jayhawks to the break with a 20-point advantage, 56-36.
Kansas kept firing, rolling out to a 7-0 run after halftime. Conversely, a single free throw was all the home team surrendered through the first media timeout of the second half. With less than 15 minutes on the clock, White’s layup through the lane pushed KU’s lead to the 30-point mark, 72-42.
Alley-oop dunks to Wiggins and Ellis brought flash to an otherwise uneventful last 10 minutes. A mini 5-0 run saw the Tigers dip their deficit under 30 points around the five-minute mark, but Kansas had more than enough room to close the door. All 16 available Jayhawks checked in by night’s end, allowing a small window of opportunity for the Tigers to go on a 10-2 run in the final minutes, but the Jayhawks came away with the 92-75 win.
Kansas will open regular-season play on Friday, Nov. 8 against Louisiana at Monroe in Allen Fieldhouse. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. (Central) and the game can be seen on Jayhawk IMG Television Network, ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 outside the state of Kansas. KU will then play Duke at the United Center in Chicago as part of the in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Tip time is approximately 8:30 p.m. (Central), or 30 minutes following the Michigan State-Kentucky contest (6:30 p.m.), and can be seen on ESPN.