Eager to wash the taste of Friday’s loss to Dayton out of their mouths, the Jayhawks came out firing against Iona in their final game of the ESPN Events Invitational on Sunday. The Jayhawks never trailed, though Iona was able to get it tied at seven early on. From there, Kansas went on a 10-0 run and for the most part, the only question for much of the first half was how many points KU would win by. Kansas led by as many as 22 in the first half, but the Gaels were able to trim it back before halftime thanks to some defensive miscues.
Christian Braun, who has been on a very solid run of play recently, continued that trend with 13 first half points, leading the Jayhawks to a 46-31 halftime advantage. Ochai Agabji made a couple of early buckets, but aside from a high-rising finish off a beautiful lob by Braun, was fairly quiet, scoring seven on 3-5 shooting. Mitch Lightfoot was a pleasant early surprise, scoring seven with four boards and an assist without any fouls or turnovers.
To start the second half, fans got a bit of a here-we-go-again feeling, as Iona quickly scored the first five and cut the lead to ten. Bill Self had a quick trigger with the timeout less than a minute in to make sure the Jayhawks’ minds were right after blowing a double digit lead against Dayton just two days prior. At the first media timeout of the half, the lead was back to 12, 51-39.
The Jayhawks would eventually push that lead back to 20, and held Iona from ever really getting back into the game without turning it into a blowout. Some younger players did get minutes down the stretch, which also kept the lead from really ballooning. In the end, Kansas took the win, 96-83.
Braun led the team with 20 points, while Agbaji chipped in 17 on 8-14 shooting. Remy Martin scored 11 with five boards and five assists, while David McCormack scored a season high 13 with five boards, though his minutes were limited due to four fouls.
The Jayhawks get four days off to put this trip behind them, but have another road trip coming up as they travel to New York to Play St. John’s on Friday, December 3.