Kansas didn’t look like it missed Brandon Rush too much in its season opener.
The fourth-ranked Jayhawks will be trying to build on an impressive offensive performance when they host UMKC on Sunday in the Jayhawk Invitational.
Rush led the Jayhawks in scoring in each of the last two seasons and averaged 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. However, he tore his right ACL in May and is not expected back until December.
Even without Rush, who likely would have entered the NBA draft if not for the injury, the Jayhawks rolled to a 107-78 win over Louisiana-Monroe in Friday’s season opener. Sherron Collins scored 22 points and Darnell Jackson added a career-high 21 for Kansas.
“I came out with energy tonight,” Jackson said. “As long as I am out there doing what I need to do to help the team win, I am happy with that.”
Kansas, which had not scored 100 points in an opener since 1991, matched its highest point total under fifth-year coach Bill Self. Kansas beat Niagara 107-67 in the first round of last season’s NCAA tournament.
But while he was pleased with his offense, Self wished his team had focused more on the other end.
“We challenge the ball in the backcourt and they get numbers behind us. That’s bad defense,” the coach said. “That happened a lot. I think the guys had so much fun running, they ran downhill to offense and uphill to defense, unfortunately. I never knew the court was tilted that way.”
Louisiana-Monroe shot 51.0 percent, becoming the third opponent in Kansas’ last 75 games to shoot that well.
“The offense was pretty good, but our defense wasn’t very good today,” sophomore forward Darrell Arthur said. “We are going to work on it a lot tomorrow at practice. They shot over 50 percent tonight and our goal is to keep everyone under 40 percent, so we did a bad job.”
Arthur had 11 points and six rebounds. He has taken over in the lineup for Julian Wright, who averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds as a sophomore last season before declaring for the NBA draft.
Once Rush returns, however, the Jayhawks will have four of five starters back from last season’s team, which went 33-5 and reached the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.
Sunday’s game is the first in the Jayhawk Invitational, a round-robin event that also includes Arizona, Northern Arizona, Washburn and Adams State. Kansas has won all three of its previous matchups with UMKC, including a 100-46 victory on Jan. 4, 2003 in the most recent meeting.
The Kangaroos are playing their first game of the season under new coach Matt Brown. They return seven players, including three starters, from last season’s team, which went 12-20 and finished sixth in the Mid-Continent Conference, now called the Summit League.
However, UMKC lost its two leading scorers, Quinton Day (16.9 points per game) and Dee Ayuba (12.8). Shooting guard Dane Brumagin, who averaged 9.6 points, is the leading returning scorer.