Kansas 86, Western Illinois 57
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Julian Wright’s 14 points led five players in double figures as Kansas cruised past Western Illinois 86-57 Saturday night and gave fans a long look at its four highly touted freshmen on the court together.
Christian Moody had 12 points and C.J. Giles, Micah Downs and Sasha Kaun had 10 each and enabled the youthful Jayhawks (3-3) to avoid their first 2-4 start since 1962.
Kansas, much taller than the Leathernecks (2-3), scored 42 points in the paint and was never in danger. The Jayhawks, comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores, put the game out of reach with a 12-0 run early in the second half.
Freshman Mario Chalmers stole a Western Illinois pass and dished to sophomore Sasha Kaun for a crowd-pleasing dunk during the run. Then the 6-foot-8 Downs stole the ball under the basket from Eliz Cepeda and dunked on him, making it 57-36.
Wright, another 6-8 freshman, then hit five unanswered points for Kansas.
David Jackson, who had a sophomore school-record 32 points the previous game, had 17 for Western Illinois. Marlon Mahorn had 11 for the Leathernecks, who began a stretch of playing seven out of eight games on the road.
The loss dropped Western Illinois’ Derek Thomas’ record as a visiting coach to 2-28.
The Jayhawks, coming off a bitter 72-70 home loss to No. 20 Nevada, took control early with a 15-6 lead.
Jackson finally broke the streak with the first of his three 3-pointers, but the Leathernecks soon trailed 30-14 on a pair of free throws by Kaun. They never got closer than nine points the rest of the half and finally trailed 45-31 at halftime on a 3-pointer by Downs and Christian Moody’s bucket.
Kansas had 17 field goals on 16 assists in the second half.
One play that brought the crowd to its feet near the end of the half was a Chalmers-to-Wright pass that Wright converted for a dunk.
Chalmers, the freshman point guard, stole a pass by the Leathernecks and drove the court before throwing the lob pass to Wright.