Usually it ended up with a dunk.
Andrew Wiggins and the high-flying Jayhawks put together a highlight reel in the first half Friday night, rolling to a big lead over the overmatched Tigers. The nation’s No. 2 team cruised in the second half to an 88-58 win in its opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
”When we’re playing our game, no one can stop us,” said Wiggins, the star freshman who led the Jayhawks (4-0) with 16 points. ”When we play in the flow of the game, no one can stop us. We have too many tools to use. When we’re playing like we did today, nobody can stop us.”
Andrew White III finished with 13 points, Wayne Selden added 12 and Perry Ellis had 10 for the Jayhawks, who used a 22-2 run to take a 49-16 lead by halftime. From there, they might as well have started to look ahead to their game against Wake Forest in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day.
The Jayhawks are scheduled for three games in the rest of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
”Hopefully this will be a good stretch for us to start putting some stuff together,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. ”We’re making steps in the right direction.”
Jerrelle Benimon had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Towson (3-2), the favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association. Rafriel Guthrie scored 15 points off the bench.
”They’re deep, they’re athletic, and unfortunately for us, they were locked in,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said with a shake of his head. ”If there’s a better team in the country, I’d like to find out who they are, and I certainly don’t want to play them.”
After stumbling a bit out of the gate, the uber-athletic Jayhawks reeled off 11 straight points to seize control. Six of the points came on rim-rattling dunks, two of those by Tarik Black.
Towson quickly became rattled and started to settle for a cacophony of quick 3-pointers, ill-advised shots in the paint and tightly contested jumpers. All of its misses only served to fuel the Kansas fast break, which piled up 22 points in the first 20 minutes.
”All of them run,” Benimon said. ”They just get up and down.”
The Tigers were still within 27-14 with 7:42 left in the half, but they only managed one field goal from there as Kansas used a 22-2 finishing flurry to blow the game open. Wiggins scored nine of his 14 first-half points during the run, and was involved in both of the highlights.
The first came after a miss by the Tigers’ Timajh Parker-Rivera. The ball ended up with Frank Mason, whose pretty one-bounce, cross-court pass to Wiggins resulted in an easy dunk.
The second highlight came after Mike Burwell missed and Mason again got the ball in the open court. He fed it to fellow freshman Conner Frankamp who, rather than take a mildly contested layup, added one extra pass like a seasoned veteran that Wiggins slammed with two hands.
By the time White was fouled in transition and made the second of two free throws with 1.4 seconds left on the clock, the Jayhawks had built their huge halftime advantage.
Kansas wound up shooting 69 percent from the field over the opening 20 minutes, had a 23-11 advantage on the boards and outscored the smaller Tigers 26-10 in the paint.
Towson shot 20.7 percent from the field and missed all 10 of its 3-point tries.
The Jayhawks didn’t slow down much in the second half, racing up and down the court like it was a YMCA pickup game. Black had another big dunk during one stretch, Frankamp curled in a 3 and Kansas coasted to its 66th consecutive non-conference win at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks won’t return to the friendly confines of the Phog for close to a month. After the Bahamas, they visit Colorado and Florida along with playing New Mexico at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. They return home to play Georgetown on Dec. 21.
”I think potentially we could be one of the better teams, no question,” Self said. ”I think by the end if our young kids get better, we have a chance to be in the conversation. … There’s a lot of nice teams out there but certainly when we play with energy we can be one of the better ones.”
— Associated Press —