The regular season has finally started and No. 4 Kansas opened things up by dominating Northern Colorado in Allen Fieldhouse, 109-72.
Off the bench, Brannen Greene led all Kansas scorers with 18 points, hitting all 5 of his three-point attempts.
As a team, the Jayhawks hit 15 three’s and put on an offensive display not seen in quite some time. While Northern Colorado wasn’t the best competition the Jayhawks will face this season, to come out game 1 and put up 109 on 55% shooting is a major plus for a team expecting to reach the Final Four.
Four of the five starters for Kansas reached double-digits in scoring (Jamari Traylor had 8 points), and Frank Mason III was one assist shy of a double-double, scoring 11 points and recording 9 assists to just 2 turnovers.
As Bill Self said after the game, this may potentially be the deepest team he’s had at Kansas, and because of the World University Games over the summer, his Jayhawks are probably a month ahead of where his teams usually are to start the season.
Winning the gold and going undefeated in South Korea was rewarding, but having freshman learn plays and grasp Self’s system early on to gain readiness for the 2015-16 season may have been the ultimate reward.
In most cases, Self’s teams usually begin to clock following Christmas break when they’ve played a dozen games and have unlimited practice time over the holidays.
Now, the Jayhawks have the benefit of being prepared for the season at the outset, much like Kentucky was last season after playing in Puerto Rico over the summer.
For Greene, a streaky player that has had an up and down career at Kansas, exploding for 18 points off the bench and post-hip surgery which kept him from playing following the end of last season is a bonus for Kansas in terms of its offense.
Greene has proven to be Kansas’ best three-point marksman, but disciplinary issues and frequent visits to Self’s doghouse have kept him from fully blossoming in Lawrence.
Defensively, Kansas held the Bears to 39% shooting from the floor, and just 33% from behind the arc.
With new rules in place, making it tougher for players on the defensive side of the ball to be physical with on-ball defense, coaches have been worried about foul trouble, particularly early on in the season while everyone adjusts.
KU recorded just 24 personal fouls for the game, and with its depth, only saw one player–Landen Lucas–have more than 3 fouls on the night.
On the flip side, the Bears ended up with 35 personal fouls and had three players foul out of the game, including two starters.
Next up is a date with Michigan State as apart of the Champions Classic, this time in Chicago. The tournament, which enters its fourth year, features Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, and Michigan State. This year is a reboot from the first edition, with Kentucky taking on Duke in the first sessions, followed by the night capper between the Jayhawks and Spartans.
Kansas’ next home game at Allen Fieldhouse will be December 1 against Loyola (MD).
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