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Kansas defeats North Dakota State, 82-59

  • 7 p.m., Nov. 10, 2022
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Speed demons: No. 5 Kansas clobbers North Dakota State, 82-59, to move to 2-0

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) pushes the ball up the court against North Dakota State during the first half, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) pushes the ball up the court against North Dakota State during the first half, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The plan for the fifth-ranked Kansas men’s basketball team against North Dakota State’s quality big men on Thursday night was to make their heads spin before they got set.

Boy, did it work.

In a game that was all but over 10 minutes into the first half, Kansas overwhelmed NDSU 82-59, winning the first half 48-19 to set the tone for the run-away victory.

“Speed makes size do funny things,” acting KU coach Norm Roberts said after the victory. “And we looked really, really fast in that first half. And I think it caught them off guard.”

The lessons the Jayhawks (2-0) learned from their poor start in their exhibition win over Pitt State continued to pay off on Thursday night.

Kansas was anything but lethargic in the early going on Thursday, racing out to leads of 12-3, 26-9 and 40-16 en route to the easy victory.

In both regular season games, KU’s defense has been turned up to the maximum level on every possession in the opening minutes, and many of their defensive possessions have led to easy offense on the other end.

That’s the way Kansas coach Bill Self and acting head coach Norm Roberts want all of their teams to play all of the time. And this group already seems to have embraced that philosophy, even if there is still some fine-tuning to do regarding the specifics.

“Coming into the game, you want to establish yourselves to the opponent and let them know we mean business right out the gate,” KU big man Ernest Udeh Jr. said after Thursday’s win. “If we always focus on defending, defending and take care of the ball, that just creates offense for the whole team.”

Few players benefited from that more than KU junior Jalen Wilson, who scored 17 points in the first half before cooling off in the second half and ending with 21, two off a career high.

Wilson was aggressive early and dialed in his jumper at the same time, with a highly efficient 6-of-8 first-half shooting performance. That included three makes from behind the 3-point line and Wilson making six of seven shots after misfiring from close range on the game’s opening possession. Wilson also added a team-high nine rebounds.

Kansas freshman Gradey Dick called Wilson’s start “extremely” important for this team, because it sets the tone for the night and allows the rest of the lineup to settle into the flow of the game.

“He’s our leader,” Dick said. “We need him to be aggressive and make plays and we know he’s going to do that.”

Added freshman MJ Rice, who made his KU debut on Thursday: “He’s like the OG of the team. He’s always bringing the energy and when he goes in and plays his game that just opens up the gate for us to come in and follow him and be aggressive.”

As a team, KU shot 56% from the floor in the first half (50% from 3-point range) while holding the Bison to 25% shooting.

It wasn’t just an off-shooting night for NDSU, though. Kansas simply never let the Bison get comfortable. Dribbling and passing were major challenges for the visitors during Thursday’s first half, nevermind their difficulty hitting shots.

KU’s defensive pressure forced five steals — three in the game’s first few minutes — and that quickly turned into offense and easy buckets.

“That’s the thing,” NDSU coach David Richman said after the loss. “You can’t simulate that kind of size, speed and strength in practice. Those guys come in here (and) play their tails off. They look like men. They’re unselfish. That’s a fun group to watch as you’re scouting them and not a very fun group to play against.”

Other than Wilson, no one in the KU lineup benefitted more from the Jayhawks’ swarming style than sophomore guard Bobby Pettiford. Pettiford played just five minutes in the first half but appeared to be in total control when he was out there.

He found childhood friend Rice for two easy baskets and tossed a lob to Udeh for another. Pettiford, Rice and Udeh were the first three players off the bench for KU in Thursday’s win.

Zach Clemence and Joe Yesufu also combined to play 13 first-half minutes.

Rice checked into the game early in both halves and finished the night with 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, adding 5 rebounds in 18 minutes.

Fellow-reserves Udeh (8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes), Joe Yesufu (8 points in 16 minutes) and Pettiford (8 assists and 1 turnover in 19 minutes) also provided Kansas with solid production off the bench.

North Dakota State won the second half 40-34, with KU cooling off on offensive and letting up a little defensively. None of that surprised Roberts nor did it bother him too much.

“We got a little ragged, the ball stopped moving (and) defensively we got kind of out of whack a bit,” he said. “But sometimes when you’ve got a lead like that, that’s going to tail off. I was really proud of the guys in the first half and how they played and attacked.”

Next up, Kansas will head to Indianapolis next week to take on No. 7 Duke in the Champions Classic. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday on ESPN.

Comments

Bryce Landon 3 weeks, 4 days ago

What? I thought the game was tomorrow night! How did I get that messed up in my mind???

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 4 days ago

So encouraging that they have the D intensity ramped up right from the start. Maybe the best carryover ever from the NC.

Micky Baker 3 weeks, 4 days ago

This Dick kid is better than advertised, IMO. Overall, this team seems to have really good chemistry early on. Udeh and Adams playing well together. All the guards are making good decisions. Jalen is a stud. MJ Rice looked impressive. Bring on Duke! These kids look to be all on the same page. So many thought that this game was going to be a tough one, but execution and players on the same page. Overall, we have a lot of quickness and when combined with sharp passes and execution, they are looking good for this early in the season.

Armen Kurdian 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Looking forward to Duke...I'm wondering whether the sponsors for the Champions Classic will want to change up teams after what...2025 I think it runs through?

Haven't been able to watch/listen to any games yet. Should be able to sit & enjoy on Tuesday night....maybe.

Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 4 days ago

With Roy retired, it would be nice to replace MSU with North Carolina. Pure Blue Blood battle.

Benny Armstrong 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I don't think either Duke or North Carolina would agree to that because it would force a conference game on a neutral floor early in the season. If Michigan State got dropped, then I think the next logical replacement is UCLA since they've been on the ascent in recent years.

Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Good point, but MSU does not belong anymore. UCLA doesn't either.

Gonzaga maybe?

Art Jefferson 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I wasn't able to watch much of the first two games. Just caught the end of both. Can someone tell me why Clemence isn't playing much? He was projected as a likely starter early on.

Shannon Gustafson 3 weeks, 4 days ago

You can rewind the stream on ESPN+. You don't have to start from wherever you first turn it on. The game always starts about an hour into the stream. So if you rewind to 1:03.00 or so in the stream, that will be tipoff.

He's not been playing much because he's not been practicing well, or playing well.

Don Perry 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Hey, Bryce, you might have gotten confused if you checked the schedule on kusports.com considering it has KU playing IU on NOV 17 even though the actual date is DEC 17. Anyone ever heard of proofreading the copy before it is posted?

Matt Tait 3 weeks, 4 days ago

What's proofreeding?

Simple mistake. Simple fix. Thanks for pointing it out in your oh-so-kind way. I can assure you the schedule had the right date and time for last night's game.

Sorry you missed it, Bryce. Worth watching the replay, though, if you can get it. That first half was as good as I can remember seeing a Kansas team play this early in the season.

Bob Zielinski 3 weeks, 4 days ago

How fun would an alternate universe be where Self and his staff coach our starting five for a season but also coach another team made up of non-starters with Pettiford, Rice, Udeh, Yesufu and Clemence/Ejiofor as the starters? I don't see how we can keep Pettiford under 20 minutes a game this season. He needs to be on the floor with the ball in his hands.

Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Patiently waiting for the Duke game. That one will be a good test on what team we really have this season.

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