Kansas defeats Omaha, 89-64

  • 7 p.m., Nov. 7, 2022
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Monday, November 7, 2022

Strong start: Veteran Jalen Wilson leads 5th-ranked Kansas past Omaha 89-64 in season-opening win

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) celebrates a three next to Omaha forward Frankie Fidler (23) during the first half, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) celebrates a three next to Omaha forward Frankie Fidler (23) during the first half, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.


One year after sitting out the season opener because of a suspension, Kansas junior Jalen Wilson got the 2022-23 season off to a roaring start, scoring 19 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing seven assists to help lead No. 5 Kansas past Omaha 89-64 Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

It took Wilson weeks last season to find the kind of rhythm and flow that he had on Monday night. And the biggest reason for him hitting his groove so early this time around was simple.

“I was just trying to set the tone for the year,” Wilson said after the victory. “Now these games really do count, and it was just so exciting getting everybody involved and feeling the crowd’s energy. I’m just so happy to get the season going.”

Wilson hit three 3-pointers in seven attempts and made seven of 16 shots overall. He drove hard to the paint and pushed the ball in transition with his signature runaway train style. And he set up others with precision passes that led to easy baskets.

Acting Kansas coach Norm Roberts, who filled in for KU coach Bill Self, who is slated to miss the first four games of the season because of a university-imposed suspension, said Wilson was “terrific,” and he pointed to the veteran forward’s free mind as the biggest reason for it.

“I think Jalen’s in a totally different mindset now,” Roberts said. “I mean, totally, as a person. Everything. He’s so confident in himself, in what he’s doing out there, and he’s confident in his teammates. I’m excited for him.”

So, too, were Wilson’s teammates, who showed they will be happy to follow the returning starter’s lead on nights when he brings it like that.

Asked after the win if he thought Wilson was a triple-double threat throughout the game, sophomore guard Bobby Pettiford smiled and said, “Oh yeah. He can do it all.”

Added freshman guard Gradey Dick, who led Kansas with 23 points in his first official start as a Jayhawk: “That’s just what he does. We see it all the time in practice. It was not a surprise.”

Wilson’s start, and what it sparked for this Kansas team came in stark contrast to what the Jayhawks (1-0) showed in their exhibition win over Pitt State last week. In that one, KU fell behind 12-0 and 21-6 before waking up and rolling to a 31-point win. On Monday, there was no such wake-up call needed.

“That was a big emphasis for us,” Pettiford said of starting fast. “We wanted to make sure we were all locked in and started off hot in the first five minutes.”

The Jayhawks pushed the tempo with their defensive intensity from the jump. And when they weren’t scoring in transition, they sought paint touches from nearly every spot and after every catch.

Sometimes, that led to tough layups through contract from players like Wilson, Pettiford and Kevin McCullar Jr. Other times, it led to uncontested buckets after those players, and others, drove hard and dished to a teammate at the last second.

After falling behind 7-5 in the early going, Kansas ripped off a 18-5 run to take a 23-12 lead into the under-12 media timeout.

The Jayhawks unveiled a slightly different starting lineup in the season opener than they had against Pitt State, with Dick starting in place of Ernest Udeh Jr., who was the first man off the bench on Monday.

Dick’s presence in the lineup allowed KU to play faster and run more often, and the Jayhawks never really stopped. While holding to Omaha to 36.7% shooting in the first half, Kansas scored 16 of their 46 first-half points on fast breaks. Twenty-four of those points came in the paint, with much of that being the result of KU’s high-tempo attack.

“I thought we got our hands on loose balls quickly and turned that into offense pretty quickly early on,” Roberts said. “There are times that we can look really fast. J-Wil helps with that. Kevin is fast and Gradey is fast. And then when you’ve got KJ (Adams) at the 5 it’s even faster.”

KU led by 13 at halftime (46-33) and the Mavericks cut the Kansas lead to seven early in the second. But a 10-0 run by the Jayhawks pushed the lead back to double digits and set the stage for a highlight-filled finish.

It featured lobs to freshmen Dick and Udeh, 3-pointers from five or six different Jayhawks and all kinds of free runs in transition after the Jayhawks (1-0) used their defense to shut down the Mavericks (0-1), who struggled to keep up with KU’s speed and athleticism all night.

Dick connected on 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and flushed a transition dunk with one hand that sent the crowd into a frenzy. A couple of plays later, after draining a shot from outside, KU ran a set to get Dick another look from behind the 3-point line and he back cut on the overplay and finished a lob from point guard Dajuan Harris.

Harris led Kansas with eight assists and added 11 points of his own in Monday’s win.

“That’s just what I try to do is bring a bunch of energy and plays like that just get the crowd going,” Dick said.

As for how he felt about making his first start, the Gatorade national player of the year out of Wichita said it filled him with a ton of adrenaline from the start.

“I was growing up dreaming of this night, watching guys before me and wanting to be in their shoes,” he said. “The fact that I got the opportunity tonight to do so is a dream come true.”


Bryce Landon 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Who else was having trouble with ESPN+Plus in the first half? I spent a huge chunk of the half hitting refresh on my computer because the video feed kept cutting out or freezing. I saw a former co-worker of mine on Facebook also having trouble with ESPN+Plus. You'd think the Worldwide Leader would have its act together to cover the season opener for the defending national champions, especially considering they hiked the subscription price up by $3!

W Keith Swinehart II 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I had no trouble with this game but have experienced difficulties in the past. Sometimes it happens. Not often. I've had success by getting out of the game then coming back in. I'm thinking it might pick up a better signal. Stick with it. It comes in handy, and it's not going away. It's not as convenient as DVR but being able to watch separate pregame and post game analysis and interviews is a big plus.

Al Martin 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Yup. And I'm out in Washington state, so it's not some local issue. I tried all the tricks; rebooting everything, but it kept telling me the connection dropped.

Gary McCullough 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I've had similar difficulties with ESPN+. But those problems are gone if you wait to start watching until after the game is over. Also, you can fast-forward through commercial breaks. I take a couple of hours with my family, put the kids to bed, then kick back with a whisky neat.

John Strayer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes it was terrible in the first half...ESPN support is pathetic...check wireless...reboot streaming device...uninstall and reinstall app....etc. It wasn't just one device for TV, my firestick and phone were all having issues. And even a family member in a different city was having issues. It definitely cleared up on its own in the second half so all of that BS they had me do was not needed and a waste of time. Sick of "tech support" phoning it in when it was obviously on their end. Can't they "see" what's going on in their own network before throwing blame on customer devices?

Garry Wright 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I've had a lot of trouble with ESPN+ ever since KU has been on it. Tonight the first half was really bad. I kept losing my connection and it said I had no internet. I did have an internet connection.

Austin Lopez 2 months, 2 weeks ago

ESPN+ worked fine for me, I didn’t have any problems here in Buffalo, NY. Maybe it’s a area thing?

Tim Orel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

In typical streaming fashion, the first half of the game had lots of drop-outs and problems, but the commercials and halftime were flawless. I guess it's comforting to hear that it wasn't just my feed.

Marc Frey 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Mine + did too. Typical. I know its a ahort sample size, but Grady Dick looks like one of our top frosh in a while.

John Strayer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah...It looks like we'll only have Gradey for one year if he's this good and continues to get even better!

Dirk Medema 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Marc - It will be interesting to see how teams scheme to defend him and he in turn adjusts. I read an encouraging article a week ago talking about him being able to make 3’s at a high% in different scenarios - catch-n-shoot, off the dribble, off screens. Most young players are comfortable in one, so they can be limited by taking away that type of opportunity. On top of that, Gradey added the 3 to already developed scoring skill set.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Really encouraging that Jalen is distributing the ball so well. I’m recalling reading that was part of what the scouts were talking about at the combine. Wanting him to be sort of a point forward.

Len Shaffer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Not just that, Dirk, but his shooting touch looks much improved as well.

He has a real shot at All-American this year.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Matt - Did you find out who’s W it is? Norm’s? Bill’s?

Garry Wright 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Neither gets the wins. It just goes into the record as a KU win.

Matt Tait 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Correct. That's in my separate story about Norm's night. They ruled before tipoff that they will go down as "program wins" and not on Bill Self or Norm Roberts' career record.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I didn’t get to watch the game at all but looks like Bobby had a real nice game as well. Gotta be so nice for him to get back in a game.

Steve Zimmerman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

3 missed dunks, but I'm confident that he will get up there confidently. I'm excited for Gradey, though. His ability to shoot those 3s are for real. Udeh should start, KJ can sub. Bobby is not cherry on top, this guy can help us to bring another banner.

David Brown 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Does Bobby Pettiford remind anyone of Sherron Collins? Drives to the rim, body bouncing off defensive players, sweeping arm arcing the ball off the glass? Just love having both Bobby & Juan to handle & distribute the ball.

Eric TheCapn 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Please put the nextBB game under Next Games on the front page. I've been relying on that for so many years that I completely missed this game. (⁠。⁠•́⁠︿⁠•̀⁠。⁠)

Blake Brown 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We had a couple of cuts out on the West coast early on and then all was OK. I agree with Keiths remarks about having the pre and post game shows on ESPN+ and that it is not going away, sadly. I've repeatedly mentioned the limitations of the app as compare to getting the games on TV, such as not being able to record AND save the games, not being able to play slow mo and easily FF or RW as the picture does not appear so you do not know exactly where you are, the difficulty of just finding the game and shows, especially after they have concluded, and it goes on and on. Even the radio broadcasts are not in sync with the app. It is so delayed, it is not feasible to watch one and listen to the other. Someone said we can find previous games shown on ESPN+ archived, but I have not figured out how and where to locate them other than doing a lengthy search to no avail most times. It was great to see Bobby finally be an offensive factor and McCullar and Gradys complete floor games. Our "bigs" are projects and how long it is going to take them to be relevant is a big question. They will get well-schooled against Duke. We're pretty good. Are we good enough? Come March? Rock Chalk!

Brad Watson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Get ready for Sat...the football game is on the app at 6pm sharp...not a minute early.

Brad Watson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Was Leipold there?...former UNO head coach...probably knows some of the folks from there that attended.

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