Kansas only plays one public exhibition this year, and it took the form of a dominant performance over Division II's Emporia State in Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
The Hornets deserve credit for coming out of the gate taking this one seriously. They were throughly outgunned, but early on they were able to keep the game somewhat close, and made five of their first eight shots (cue Bill Self yelling about playing 'soft' defense). Ultimately though, as expected, talent won out.
It was a bit of a surprise when the starters were announced and Remy Martin was not among them, but he immediately made his mark upon entering the game, scoring a baker's dozen on eight shot attempts in his first half minutes. The only Jayhawk with more was Ochai Agbaji, whose four triples helped get him to 14 at the break, at which point Kansas was already up 51-25.
The second half was generally what you would expect. The younger guys got more playing time with the game well in hand, and KU just sort of cruised, and defensively took their foot off the gas. Though Emporia never got the game even remotely close, this performance definitely gave Self plenty of ammunition for his typical, early season motivational criticisms about poor play and concerns for the season if the issues aren't remedied.
This was a DII opponent, so I won't try and extrapolate what we saw into any larger observations or predictions. The Jayhawks had a massive talent advantage, and while they didn't go crazy and put up triple digits, they largely did what you would expect them to do in what would end up a 86-60 victory.
David McCormack played just 15 minutes, but still managed 16 points and eight boards on just eight shots. That's a good sign, considering he will need to be the McCormack of last February and March for this team to reach its ceiling. Remy Martin finished with 15 points and four assists in 18 minutes, while Agbaji scored a team high 17.
None of the newcomers did anything that jumps off the statsheet at you, but KJ Adams had a beautiful post feed to Mac in the first half that was beyond anything you'd expect from a freshman in his first game. Yesufu logged 21 minutes, but aside from three steals didn't do anything particularly meaningful. Bobby Pettiford and Cam Martin had fairly unremarkable debuts, but Zach Clemence did manage four points and four boards in just nine minutes (albeit while picking up three very quick fouls). Christian Braun wasn't hesitant to let it fly, but finished 2-6 from three. Given how last season ended for him, it would have been nice to have him see a few more go through the net.
This was the only official tune-up for the team prior to starting the season in earnest just six days from tonight, when they take on Michigan State at the Champions Classic in New York. Michigan State is currently unranked, though KenPom puts them at 22nd nationally, and Jalen Wilson will still be out as he serves his suspension for his recent DUI.
The most important takeaway from tonight though...Jayhawk basketball season is officially here!