LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—From national championship banners to Hall of Fame names, the history of the 52-year-old Allen Fieldhouse seems to scream at visitors from all angles.
Kansas players know the tradition built before them, and they aren’t about lessen it with a weak effort.
Darrell Arthur had 17 points and fourth-ranked Kansas overwhelmed Northern Arizona in the first half for an 87-46 victory Wednesday night in the Jayhawks’ 600th win in Allen Fieldhouse.
“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,” Kansas senior Darnell Jackson said.
For a while in this one, the Jayhawks looked as if they might never lose another game.
Kansas poured it on from the start, scoring the first 15 points and building it to a 29-4 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left. Northern Arizona needed nearly 7 minutes to get its first basket and Kansas followed with a 21-5 run, holding the Lumberjacks to 10 first-half points—the fewest it had allowed in 15 years.
“They came out and wow—that was electrifying what was happening,” Northern Arizona coach Mike Adras said. “And we contributed to it. We got sped up and we played the way they wanted to play and obviously they are lot better playing that way than we are.”
Kansas shot 61 percent overall and didn’t allow a double-figures scorer, starting a season 4-0 for the first time since 2004-05. Jackson had 13 points and Brandon Rush scored six in his second game back from knee surgery for Kansas, which faces its first real test of the season Sunday against Arizona.
And the Jayhawks did it without leading scorer Sherron Collins, who’s not expected back until after the New Year because of a broken foot.
“It’s hard to get excited about one game, one half really, but I enjoyed watching us play tonight,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Northern Arizona (3-2) had a decent game the last time it faced a ranked opponent, losing to then-No. 17 Arizona by just seven on Nov. 13.
Whether they got caught up in the atmosphere or just had an off night, the Lumberjacks never stood a chance in this one.
Overmatched at both ends of the floor, Northern Arizona had turnovers on five of its first eight possessions and had 15 in the first half, many on passes that went out of bounds or straight to the Jayhawks.
The Lumberjacks didn’t score until Zarko Comagic hit a layup at 13:22 and barely cracked double figures for the half, shooting 4-for-24 to trail 44-10.
Their defense wasn’t any better.
The Jayhawks seemed to shoot where they wanted when they wanted, overpowering the Lumberjacks inside, blowing past them on the perimeter and on the break to shoot 17-of-28 from the field.
The Lumberjacks at least made it somewhat respectable, turning it over just three times in the second half and getting outscored by just seven in the second half. Comagic, Cameron Jones and Josh Wilson led Northern Arizona with eight points each.
“Just about everything went wrong, it seemed,” Northern Arizona forward Kyle Landry said. “They were flying around out there. We just didn’t execute and play defense like we can.”
Rush expected to be playing in the NBA this season after averaging a team-leading 13.8 points last year. Instead, he spent the summer rehabilitating a torn ACL suffered during a pickup game in May.
He wasn’t supposed to return until at least December, but Rush surprised nearly everyone by making his debut last Thursday, scoring seven points and grabbing three rebounds in 12 minutes in a lopsided win over Division II Washburn.
Sporting a bulky knee brace on his right knee, the junior guard came off the bench again, entering at 14:55. Rush showed off the shooting touch that had NBA scouts lining up last season, spotting up for a 3-pointer two minutes after coming in, then dropping in another from the same spot on the next possession.