Des Moines, Iowa No. 1 overall seed Kansas rolled to a 105-79 first-round NCAA Tournament victory over 16 seed Austin Peay on Thursday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
The 105 points marked the most in an NCAA Tournament game since 2007, when the Jayhawks scored 107 in a first-round win over Niagara.
The Jayhawks, who improved to 31-4 with the victory, simply overpowered the Governors (18-18) from the start and never looked back.
KU led by 10 points, 10 minutes into the game and, at that point, was on pace to win by 40. That didn’t happen, of course, but the 26-point win served the same purpose. KU never had to sweat in this one and, more importantly, was able to give some key rest to the starting five of Frank Mason III, Devonté Graham, Wayne Selden Jr., Perry Ellis and Landen Lucas.
The Jayhawks take on the Governors in the first round of the NCAA tournament
None of those five played more than 26 minutes in the Round 1 win.
Playing in his last NCAA Tournament, Ellis was his normal efficient and effective self, finishing with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who entered Thursday with just 4 minutes of playing time in the NCAA Tournament under his belt, exploded for 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting to lead the Jayhawks. He hit 4 of the 5 three-point shots he attempted.
Junior big man Landen Lucas added 16 and also did a solid job holding down Austin Peay big man Chris Horton, who entered the game averaging 18.9 points and 12 rebounds per game and finished with 14 and 10 on Thursday.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: KU ripped off an 18-4 run midway through the first half to push a 12-10 lead to 30-14. Austin Peay never recovered and could not hang with Kansas from that point on.
• Offensive highlight: It was subtle, but still oh so sweet. With just under 14 minutes to play in the first half, Mason took a rebound off of a missed three-pointer by Austin Peay’s Khalil Davis and raced up the floor. About 5-7 feet before he reached the mid-court line, Mason floated a soft pass over the top of the Austin Peay “D” to Ellis, who caught the pass in stride near the block, went up on the other side of the rim to protect the shot and laid it in softly to put Kansas up 12-6. Later in the first half, with KU leading by double digits and starting to hit its stride, Graham found Selden for a transition alley-oop after another turnover by Austin Peay. Graham, moving at full speed, attacked the paint after a head fake and then lobbed a pass softly over his back shoulder to a charging Selden, who did the rest to finish the play and force Austin Peay into a timeout.
After his top-seeded Jayhawks blew out Austin Peay, 105-79, Kansas coach Bill Self discusses his team's depth and what KU accomplished in its first-round victory in Des Moines, Iowa.
• Defensive highlight: Lucas volleyball-blocked a shot by Austin Peay’s Josh Robinson with 9:42 to play in the first half and Kansas leading 22-12. Lucas’ block came in help D as Robinson drove down the right side of the lane. As he rose to the rim to shoot over his man, Lucas came across the paint and slammed the shot straight down and out of bounds. Not to be outdone, senior Jamari Traylor did the same thing, this time swatting a shot by Chris Horton with his whole palm toward mid-court to get a KU fastbreak going.
• Key stat: Bench points. As if KU’s firepower in the starting lineup was not tough enough for the Governors to deal with, KU outscored Austin Peay 45-19 off the bench to turn a mismatch into a blowout.
• Up next: The Jayhawks advance to Saturday’s second round, where they will play No. 9 seed UConn, a 74-67 winner over Colorado during the day’s first game in Des Moines. Game time has not yet been determined.
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