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Jayhawks fly past St. Joe’s, 94-72

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A big second half propelled Kansas to its first win of the year.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at St. Joseph Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A big second half sparked by Christian Braun’s 30 points led Kansas over the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s on Friday afternoon in Florida.

Kansas fell behind early, and even trailed St. Joe’s 27-20 with nine minutes to play in the first half. However, Kansas would close the half on a 24-9 run, due in part to holding SJU scoreless for nearly 4 minutes of game time, taking a 6-point, 44-38 lead into the break.

The Jayhawks couldn’t just coast, though, as St. Joe’s responded right after halftime with an 8-0 run of their own, retaking the lead. However, a Jalen Wilson layup with 10:53 to play gave KU a 10-point edge, and St. Joe’s would not be within single digits the rest of the way and Kansas could finally cruise to a 94-72 victory.

As expected, St. Joe’s put up nearly half of their shot attempts from behind the arc, but only connected on 35.1% of them. (Turns out I’m pretty good at this prediction thing when I do a little research!)

What perhaps wasn’t as expected was this: David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot combined to play 15 minutes in the first half. In the second half, it was just two minutes, as Bill Self went with a full 5-guard lineup and just ran SJU out of the gym. Christian Braun was on fire throughout, connecting on 5-8 three-pointers on his way to 30 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals.

Ochai Agbaji (18 points) and Jalen Wilson (14 points) were the only other Jayhawks in double figures, but it was Dajuan Harris who sparked the Jayhawks in the second half. Harris played all 15 of his minutes in the second frame. He scored just three points, but contributed 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.

This is, however, back-to-back games where Kansas has struggled finishing around the rim. Kansas was just 14-26 at the rim against SJU, a day after connecting on just 13-23 against Gonzaga. Those numbers aren’t ideal. But, after no dunk attempts against Gonzaga, the Jayhawks slammed it home three times today.

Up next, Kansas will face off against Kentucky in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Dec 1, at 8:30 PM Jayhawk time.