The Kansas University men's basketball team unofficially kicked off the 2015-16 season with a hard-fought 89-66 home exhibition victory over visiting Pittsburg State.
As expected, KU coach Bill Self started Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III and Devonté Graham together in the back court and Perry Ellis in the front court. The fifth starter turned out to be Landen Lucas, but true freshman forward Carlton Bragg stole the show and wound up starting the second half in Lucas' place.
Bragg, in his first game at Allen Fieldhouse, finished with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in 21 minutes.
As for the rest of the stat sheet, the usual suspects filled it up, with Ellis leading Kansas with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Mason adding 14 points in 25 minutes and Graham putting together the most complete line of the night — seven points, eight rebounds, eight assists.
Images from Wednesday night's exhibition between the Jayhawks and Gorillas at Allen Fieldhouse.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks pushed what was a tightly contested first half into a laugher during the final few minutes of the first half. A pair of PSU free throws at the 4:05 mark pulled the Gorillas to within 31-25. From there, KU outscored Pitt State 15-3 to close the half and take an 18-point lead into the locker room. Hunter Mickelson, Ellis and Graham did most of the damage during the devastating run.
• Offensive highlight: With 15 seconds to play in the first half, Mickelson followed up a Bragg miss in transition with a dunk that left him hanging on the rim and riding the back of a Pitt State player. Mickelson, who had a breakout performance in Korea this summer, appeared to pick up right where he left off and looked active, aggressive and smooth for most of his minutes in this one.
• Defensive highlight: It wasn't necessary a highlight, but it was pretty. Early in the game, moments after he checked in for the first time, Mickelson closed out on a jump shooter and blocked the shot from about 15 feet away. The block was indicative of exactly the kind of little things that Mickelson can bring to this team and the senior forward finished with four of KU's nine blocks on the night.
• Key stat: Pitt State shot just 28.2 percent from the floor in this one, proving that no matter how on or off KU is on the offensive end, the Jayhawks can be awfully tough to beat if they bring it on defense. Clearly Kansas had the size, strength and depth advantages at every position in this one, but that didn't matter early when the Gorillas were able to hang in there. When KU turned it up defensively, though, PSU had no answer. This team's depth and length defensively should be able to do that to most opponents this season.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will close out the exhibition schedule at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Fort Hays State before opening the regular season Friday, Nov. 13 at home against Northern Colorado.
— See what people were saying about the exhibition during KUsports.com’s live coverage.