Think the Jayhawks were ready to play a real game?
After an extended exhibition slate, starting with a trip to Italy in the summer, the No. 4-ranked Kansas men’s basketball team wasted little time asserting itself in a game that actually counted. The Jayhawks didn’t miss a shot in their regular-season opener against Tennessee State, a 92-56 win, until the 12:23 mark in the first half. And even when they did, it didn’t matter.
That miss — a layup by Malik Newman that bounced off the rim — fell into the hands of Lagerald Vick, who attempted a lay-in of his own. His shot also missed, but Marcus Garrett was there to clean it up and give KU its first 20-point lead of the day.
It was a solid day for the freshman, who got the start over Newman for the opener. Garrett finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals in 29 minutes, while Newman finished with 12 points and four boards in 24.
View a gallery of images from Friday night's game between the Jayhawks and Tigers at Allen Fieldhouse.
Overall, the Jayhawks had six players finish in double figures in scoring. Vick led the way with 23 points, while, Svi Mykhailiuk (15 points), Udoka Azubuike (13) and Devonte' Graham (10) rounded out the group.
The balance carried the Jayhawks on a night they were without freshman Billy Preston, who did not appear after missing curfew Thursday night and class on Friday, according to the KU basketball Twitter account.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Vick broke the seal on the net. It didn’t take that long, either.
After launching an early 3 and letting out a roar as it fell through the net some 45 seconds into the game, Vick gave KU its first lead of the game. The Jayhawks never trailed from that point on, jumping out to a huge advantage in the first half behind a 3-point barrage and pushing the lead all the way out to 40 at multiple points in the second half.
• Offensive highlight: On a day when just about everything was working on offense, the Jayhawks also had a bit of luck on their side.
With just under 12 minutes to play in the first half, Garrett lobbed a pass in toward Azubuike, who couldn’t corral it and tipped the ball up in the air. Somehow, the ball ended up falling into the cylinder and through the net to put KU up 29-9. Watching from the sideline, KU coach Bill Self couldn't help but let out a smile.
• Defensive highlight: Graham wasted little time turning defense into offense, ripping the ball away from a Tennessee State player twice in the opening minutes.
The second time, Graham was able to draw a foul, but on the first instance, aided by a bit of a barricade in the 7-foot, 280-pound Azubuike, the senior took the ball coast to coast, finishing with a two-handed slam to electrify an already raucous Allen Fieldhouse crowd.
Graham wasn’t done on that end, either. With eight-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, he hustled back in transition after Tennessee State’s Delano Spencer and pulled off an impressive chase-down swat at the rim. After totaling one block in their exhibition finale, a total Self was unhappy with, the Jayhawks tabbed three in the first half and finished the game with seven.
• Key stat: The Jayhawks out-rebounded the Tigers 45-23, though the numbers didn't quite tell the whole story given Tennessee State didn't have a chance to snag a defensive rebound until nearly eight minutes into the game.
The Jayhawks shot a blistering 60 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3, which included three baskets that came after the 3:29 mark, when Self inserted walk-ons Chris Teahan and Clay Young into the game.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will head to Chicago for a showdown with No. 5 Kentucky (8:30 p.m., ESPN) in the Champions Classic. The Wildcats defeated Utah Valley, 73-63, in their season opener on Friday.