LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)Jalen Wilson had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Gradey Dick added 23 points in his debut, and No. 5 Kansas began defense of its national championship without suspended coach Bill Self in an 89-64 rout of Omaha on Monday night.
Bobby Pettiford Jr. added 13 points, Dajuan Harris had 11 points and eight assists, and Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar Jr. scored 10 for the Jayhawks, who broke open a close game in the second half with two big runs.
Self served the first of a four-game punishment along with assistant Kurtis Townsend as part of the fallout from a 2017 federal investigation into college basketball corruption. The case against Kansas has been mired in an independent review process, so the school self-imposed the penalties last week rather than continue waiting for a resolution.
Norm Roberts, a longtime assistant who also spent six seasons as the head coach at St. John’s, served as the Jayhawks’ acting coach. But the school said any wins or losses under his leadership would be attributed to the program only.
There was never much question whether it would be a win Monday night.
Despite returning only two starters from the team that rallied to beat North Carolina in the national championship game, the new-look Jayhawks built a double-digit lead by the midway point of the first half and never looked back.
Jaeden Marshall scored 13 points and Luke Jungers had 12 for the Mavericks.
Wilson, who declared for the NBA draft before returning to school, showed that he can go from being a talented role player to an unquestioned leader. He drained three early 3-pointers, kept getting easy baskets by cutting to the rim, and was just as good at the defensive end, where he made every shot difficult for the undersized Mavericks.
Meanwhile, Dick lived up to the expectations that come with being a five-star and top-20 national prospect. The rangy forward from Kansas prep powerhouse Sunrise Christian Academy knocked down his first two 3-pointers and, like Wilson, showed a natural ability to get easy baskets at the rim.
The Mavericks, picked to finish second-to-last in the Summit League, did their best to hang around into the second half, and they even closed to 50-43 on a 3-pointer from Jungers with 16:52 left.
That’s when the Jayhawks turned up their defense, got into transition and began hitting 3s.
They rolled off 10 straight points to restore their cushion, then went on another 15-point run a few minutes later, turning a 68-55 lead into an 83-55 advantage and allowing Roberts to empty the bench down the stretch.
Kansas got off to a slow start against Pittsburg State in its exhibition game, and it had plenty of sluggish moments through the first 25 minutes against the Mavericks. The Jayhawks might be able to overcome those against North Dakota State on Thursday night, but they’ll have a much tougher time against No. 7 Duke in next week’s Champions Classic.
The Mavericks visit Nebraska and the Jayhawks play the Bison on Thursday night.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25