LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — David McCormack scored 17 points, Ochai Agbaji added 16 and Jalen Wilson had 12, helping seventh-ranked Kansas cruise to a 89-54 victory over lower-division Washburn on Thursday night in the Jayhawks' long-delayed home opener.
Kansas (3-1) had opened with a pair of games in Florida and beat Kentucky in Indianapolis before returning to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse. But their first game played in the Phog since the COVID-19 pandemic began lacked much of the atmosphere that has made the building one of the toughest — and most hallowed — in all of college basketball.
Players sat apart from each other, much like they have at other venues, and the recent surge in positive cases forced school officials to limit attendance to a couple hundred staff and family members. Even the pregame montage and chants of “Rock Chalk” that so often disquiet opponents were somewhat muted.
Perhaps that's why Washburn (3-1), coached by former Jayhawks guard and Bill Self assistant Brett Ballard, wasn't rattled in the opening minutes. Levi Braun hit a trio of early 3s, Jonny Clausing bulled his way to a couple easy baskets, and the Ichabods managed to hang within 27-22 at the under-8 timeout of the first half.
McCormack and Wilson began to be too much, though.
McCormack, a junior forward, was 5 of 6 from the field on his way to 13 first-half points, and Wilson drilled three 3s and had 12 points as Kansas used a late run to stretch its lead to 49-32 heading into the locker room.
Both teams were sloppy to start the second half, each errant pass resulting in coaching from the sideline that seemed to echo off the walls. But the Jayhawks eventually began to pull away with Agbaji starting a big run that pushed the lead to 61-34, allowing Self's bunch to cruise to their 48th consecutive home-opening win.
Braun and Tyler Geiman led the Ichabods with nine points apiece. Clausing finished with eight.
Kansas announced shortly before tip that fans would return in limited amounts Tuesday night against No. 9 Creighton and continuing through games against Omaha on Dec. 11 and Tarleton State two days later. At that point, a decision will be made on the next batch of home games. “This remains a very fluid situation that changes daily with the rise and fall of COVID-19 infection rates," Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement.
Washburn managed to hang around as long as it hit open 3-pointers, and exceptional ball movement for the Division II powerhouse meant there were plenty of them. The Ichabods finished 9 of 26 from beyond the arc.
Kansas, which prefers to run its offense through its post players, tried to get McCormack involved early against its smaller opponent. He had averaged just 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in wins over Saint Joseph's and Kentucky and a season-opening loss to top-ranked Gonzaga, but he was more active on both ends of the floor Thursday night.
Washburn returns to the MIAA play against Newman on Saturday. The Jayhawks play North Dakota State that afternoon.
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