Jayhawks Escape DII Washburn In Tuneup

By: DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
By: DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
Kansas center Jeff Withey (5) is covered by Washburn guard Will McNeill (10) during the first half of an exhibition NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas center Jeff Withey (5) is covered by Washburn guard Will McNeill (10) during the first half of an exhibition NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Ben McLemore had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 7 Kansas was tested by Division II power Washburn before easing to a 62-50 exhibition victory Monday night.

Elijah Johnson added 13 points and freshman Perry Ellis had 10 for the Jayhawks, who turned the ball over 24 times in their final tuneup before they open their regular season Friday night against Southeast Missouri State.

After that is a date with No. 14 Michigan State on Nov. 13.

Kansas has a long way to go before that early season showdown in Atlanta.

Despite returning three starters from the team that pushed Kentucky to the limit in last season's national championship game, the Jayhawks have appeared ragged and unpolished through their first two exhibition games against small, in-state schools Emporia State and Washburn.

They needed a 19-1 run to help put away the Hornets last week, and then used a 16-3 run early Monday night before coaxing the game toward its messy conclusion.

McLemore, who sat out last season as a partial NCAA qualifier, was one of the few players in coach Bill Self's lineup who managed to produce on offense. He combined with Ellis and Johnson to score 29 of the Jayhawks' first 34 points, allowing them to build a 36-24 lead by halftime.

Still, even McLemore gave Self plenty of teachable moments.

One of them came early in the second half, when he gathered in the ball on the wing. With only one smaller defender in his way to the basket, McLemore opted to take a midrange jumper rather than go to the rim, leaving Self to scream halfway across the court for him to attack.

Self wound up calling three timeouts in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

These are the kind of growing pains that Kansas will no doubt experience through the first part of the season, though. Despite being picked to win their ninth consecutive Big 12 title, the reality is they have nine freshmen on the roster, seven of whom could contribute.

How steep has the learning curve been at Kansas? Even the courtside announcer is trying to settle into pronouncing the newcomers' names, half the time calling Anrio Adams with his full name and half the time shortening the freshman guard's first name to simply Rio.

Seven-footer Jeff Withey, one of the nation's premier post defenders, struggled again to get on track. He only had seven points and six rebounds against Emporia State, and had nine points and eight rebounds against the Ichabods, even though he had a massive size advantage in the paint.

Will McNeill scored 13 points to lead Washburn, a school from Topeka, Kan., that went 25-8 last season and was voted No. 2 in the NABC Division II preseason poll.

McNeill was the biggest reason the Ichabods were still within 53-42 with about 5 minutes left in the game. But that's when Withey scored inside, and then made a block at the other to trigger a fastbreak, which Releford finished with a three-point play for a 58-42 lead.

Johnson added a 3 moments later to deliver the knockout blow.


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