(4) Kansas 107, Louisiana-Monroe 78
November 9, 2007
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- He liked the 107 points Kansas scored. The 78 his fourth-ranked Jayhawks gave up to a much smaller Louisiana-Monroe in their season opener Friday night did not please coach Bill Self.
The undersized Warhawks shot 51 percent, just the third opponent in Kansas' last 75 games to do so.
"We challenge the ball in the backcourt and they get numbers behind us. That's bad defense," Self said after the Jayhawks pulled away in the second half to win their 35th consecutive season opener.
"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."
Sherron Collins had 22 points and Darnell Jackson had a career-high 21 for Kansas.
"I came out with energy tonight," the 6-foot-8 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."
The Jayhawks (1-0) waltzed to a 47-35 halftime lead and then quickly turned it into a romp when the Warhawks' two top scorers, Tony Hooper and Lance Brasher, went to the bench with four fouls.
Collins, a sophomore guard, drove in for a layup, then Jackson had a thunder dunk off an alley-oop pass from Russell Robinson and freshman Tyrel Reed hit the first of his three 3-pointers. The lead went to 75-45 when Jackson muscled inside for two points.
"I thought we played really hard, and we shot the ball well, but Kansas is really, really good, to say the least," Louisiana-Monroe coach Orlando Early said.
"We had our leading scorer and another double-figure scorer on the bench, and we had to play a freshman who's not ready. Kansas is a good team, but they go on that run because these guys that are normally in there were on the bench."
The Jayhawks, who will have four of five starters back when Brandon Rush returns from knee surgery around Dec. 1, had not scored 100 points in an opener since 1991. But their overwhelming advantage in depth and height -- the Warhawks had only one starter taller than 6-4 -- made it a complete mismatch.
Two consecutive 3-pointers by Collins raised the lead to 89-59 with 9:30 left. Then with 3:20 left, Jackson's bucket made it 101-68.
The Warhawks (0-1), favored in the Western Division of the Sun Belt Conference, got 19 points from Hooper and 12 from Brasher. Jordan Payne had 11 of his 17 points in the second half.
Rush, who had to put off his early NBA entry plans when he torn his ACL in May, sat on the bench wearing a knee brace as his teammates cruised past the overmatched Warhawks. The Jayhawks' leading scorer of the past two seasons, Rush should be back on the court in early December, six months after his surgery and make the Jayhawks big favorites to win their fourth straight Big 12 title.
Darrell Arthur, the 6-9 sophomore who's expected to replace Julian Wright, who went early into the draft last June and was a lottery pick, had 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting and six rebounds. Robinson had 10 points for the Jayhawks, who outrebounded the Warhawks 35-28 and forced 24 turnovers.
"The offense was pretty good, but our defense wasn't very good today," 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."
Even after Hooper and Brasher came back into the game with about 11:30 left, there was no stopping Kansas' momentum. Payne and Brasher each hit a quick basket, reducing the lead to 80-52, and then Collins hit consecutive 3-pointers.
Lousiana-Monroe, 3-25 in its last 28 road games, got nine points from Brandon Roberts and eight from Jonas Brown.
"It was really tough committing that fourth foul," Hooper said. "It didn't help the team at all. It really hurt. We wanted to get a win, but just couldn't do it. They are a good team. I mean, they didn't even have Brandon Rush."
Reed wound up with 11 points in his college debut and was 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
Besides getting their basketball season off to a roaring start, the victory also gave Kansas an historic overlap. It's the first time that both the basketball and football teams have been unbeaten at the same time in the same academic year. The Jayhawk football squad is 9-0 and ranked No. 5 going into Saturday's game at Oklahoma State.