Kansas hasn’t faced much of a challenge this season. That will likely change on Sunday when it faces another storied basketball program.
The fourth-ranked and unbeaten Jayhawks get their first real test of the season when Arizona visits Allen Fieldhouse.
With an 87-46 rout of Northern Arizona on Wednesday, Kansas (4-0) is off to its best start since going 14-0 to begin the 2004-05 season.
The Jayhawks are winning by an average of 31.3 points so far this season, but that also has come against inferior competition in Louisiana-Monroe, Missouri-Kansas City and Division II Washburn.
Arizona, meanwhile, has made 23 straight trips to the NCAA tournament - the nation’s longest active streak. The Jayhawks have the second-longest streak with 18 straight tournament appearances.
Unlike this contest, Arizona’s last trip to Lawrence featured a matchup of teams in the top 10. The then-top ranked Wildcats erased a 20-point deficit to beat then-No. 6 Kansas 91-74 on Jan. 25, 2003.
Kansas is 6-3 all-time against the Wildcats, and these two schools will meet again next year in Arizona as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.
The Jayhawks earned their 600th win in Allen Fieldhouse with the victory over Northern Arizona, and is 20-2 there since last season.
“There’s a lot of history in the fieldhouse and when we step on that court and put that jersey on, we have to go out there with that same mind-set the guys before us had, go out there and try to win every game in the fieldhouse,” said Kansas senior Darnell Jackson.
The Jayhawks had little trouble with the Lumberjacks, building a 29-4 lead 12 1/2 minutes into the game en route to a 44-10 halftime advantage. Overall, Kansas shot a season-high 61.4 percent from the floor.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy,” said sophomore Darrell Arthur, who had 17 points and averages a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. “Coach has been getting on us about our defense and things we need to do out there. So we came out with more intensity.”
Brandon Rush scored six points in 16 minutes in his second game back from knee surgery. Rush averaged a team-high 13.8 points last year, but suffered a torn ACL during a pickup game in May and wasn’t expected to return until at least December.
Rush debuted on Nov. 15 in a 92-60 rout of Washburn, and had seven points with three rebounds in 12 minutes.
The Wildcats (3-1) seem to be turning things around after a 75-72 loss to Virginia on Nov. 17.
Arizona, which is being led by coach Kevin O’Neill while Hall of Famer Lute Olson is on a leave of absence for personal reasons, is coming off an 88-64 win over Division II Adams State on Wednesday.
The Wildcats are averaging 84.5 points in their last two games, up from 74.0 in their first two.
Arizona got solid production from its frontcourt against Adams State as sophomore Jordan Hill and freshman Jamelle Horn set career highs with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
The Wildcats, though, are led by freshman guard Jerryd Bayless, who is averaging 18.3 points. Sophomore forward Chase Budinger is close behind with a 16.5 point-per-game average.
“They have guys with talent,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Arizona “We need to do a good job of guarding them. They’re going to do a better job of pressuring us than anybody else we’ve seen this year.”