Prior to the start of the season, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said he had four seniors and a bunch of puppies. Tuesday night, those puppies barked, as the Jayhawks began their 20-12-13 campaign with an 88-54 win over Emporia State at Allen Fieldhouse.
Youth was served, as Kansas was led by true freshman Perry Ellis, who scored 15 points and collected seven rebounds on five of five shooting from the field. In his first game under the Fieldhouse, Ellis seemed like a natural who was right at home.
“I thought he did well. He scores the ball easy,” Self said. “He won’t always go five for five. He has such a nice touch on the ball. I still think he can be a lot more aggressive. If he can become aggressive as far as mindset, he could be a really good player really early in his career.”
Ellis also shot five of seven from the free throw line and two assists and a steal and was one of four Jayhawks in double figures.
Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore scored 11 points and brought down seven rebounds. He also brought the sellout crowd of 16,300 to its feet with a pair of rim rattling dunks, including an offensive rebound and put back off a missed three pointer that put KU up 61-36 halfway through the second half.
“First of all, coach was telling me to crash the boards more often and I had my chance to crash the board and it just came off perfect timing and I just dunked it,” McLemore said.
Freshman Andrew White scored 10 points and added five boards. Senior Elijah Johnson scored 12 points and dished out five assists, coming off the bench, after Self held him out the first five minutes for being late to a class on Tuesday.
KU fell behind early 10-4, before a 30-5 run put them up comfortably for the duration of the game. They led 42-21 at halftime and led by as much as 37 late in the second half.
As a team, Kansas shot 54% on 31 of 57 shooting. They were 8 of 21 for 38% on three pointers. And were 18 of 29 for 62% at the free throw line. Emporia State shot 36% from the field on 19 of 53 shooting and committed 18 turnovers to Kansas’ 15.
The Jayhawks will host Washburn, next Monday in their final exhibition contest before beginning the regular season a week from Friday.