Sherron Collins figured he had rid himself of the freshman jitters Thursday against Washburn.
Turns out that was just wishful thinking.
"I got really nervous when I found out I was starting a college game, my first college game," said Collins, Kansas University's freshman point guard from Chicago. "I was more nervous this game than last game."
Starting in place of the injured Mario Chalmers, Collins exploded for 20 points off 8-of-12 shooting - including four of seven threes - with three steals and two assists in Tuesday's 90-55 exhibition victory over Emporia State at Allen Fieldhouse.
He had eight points and five assists off the bench in Thursday's debut against the Ichabods.
"We found out Mario couldn't play yesterday (because of a sprained toe)," Collins said. "I called my family. I didn't really get a good night's sleep. My teammates joked around a bit, tried to get me calmed down. I wasn't as nervous the second half."
The Jayhawks collectively were shaky and held a mere 41-37 lead after 20 minutes. Collins made a pair of threes and had eight first-half points, but also had a hard time staying in front of ESU's players, including guard DeAndre Townsend, who scored 13 points the first half and 18 for the game.
Collins was more active the second half, at one point going coast to coast for a layup, hitting a three and cashing another driving layup in KU's 31-5 run that turned a 51-44 lead into an 82-49 rout.
"We weren't picking up. We were soft. We had no pressure. In the second half, we had more (pressure)," Collins said. "We did more of what coach asks us to do: scramble, get on the floor, get to loose balls."
Freshman Darrell Arthur, who had 21 points in the victory over Washburn, tallied 12 points off 3-of-11 shooting with 10 rebounds against ESU.
So it was Collins who won rookie bragging rights - at least as far as scoring - this time.
"I thought he was pretty good. You guys (media) equate good with points. Coaches do, too, to an extent," coach Bill Self said. "But he didn't guard his guy away from the ball. One pass : his man gets open. We won't dwell on the 20, although if he goes 4-for-7 most nights (from three), I'm going to think he's playing pretty well.
"He played 32 minute. He was active. It was good for his conditioning. He had a nice game, don't get me wrong. I don't think we should be setting off fireworks, because defensively he can be so much better."
Junior power forward Darnell Jackson, who had 11 points and seven rebounds, was most impressed with Collins' long-distance shooting.
Four of seven was important on a night Chalmers was missing.
"He's been working on it a lot," Jackson said of Collins' practicing outside shooting. "It's one of Sherron's biggest things lately. Sometimes he clutches when he shoots. He's not doing that as much. He's really going to be a good player for us."
Collins returned the compliments.
"I wouldn't make those shots (threes) if my teammates didn't get penetration," Collins said. "It was a team effort. Everybody had to pitch in more tonight because we're short of guys."
The dismissal of C.J. Giles earlier Tuesday, as well as injuries to Chalmers (it's expected he'll play Saturday versus Northern Arizona), Jeremy Case and Sasha Kaun meant KU dressed just eight scholarship players Tuesday.
"I didn't think we played well the first half," Self said. "We had a lot going on today. Today was a day of multiple distractions. I don't want to use that as an excuse in any way, (but) it didn't help at shootaround we're talking about things that had nothing to do with basketball.
"No. 31 (Townsend) was the best player in the first half, by far. He was better than anyone in the game. I don't think it was bad for us to start that way. I don't think anything happened tonight that was negative for us. If we do not come out at that magic level, we allow a team that we should be better than to hang around, and if a team hangs around, it gets confidence. This was a great lesson for our guys."
Tipoff for Saturday's regular-season opener is 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.