Breaking in the New York Islanders’ new UBS Arena for its first college basketball game, No. 8 Kansas was tested but rarely slowed down against St. John’s, winning 95-75 to move to 6-1.
The runs started early. St. John’s got the opening basket before the Jayhawks rolled off a 13-0 run. It was a different-looking, more aggressive David McCormack to open the game as he grabbed rebounds and got to the line seven times.
But the first half belonged to Ochai Agbaji who scored 16 points in the first 16 minutes as opponents continue to go under screens and give him space from behind the arch. It was a comfortable first half that saw KU get out to a 43-40 lead while turning St. John’s over 12 times.
Whatever the Red Storm got at halftime worked as St. John’s came out not being able to miss and scoring 18 points in the first 5:17 of the second half to cut the game to 55-48. It was a familiar sight for KU fans of late, as the KC Star’s Jesse Newell pointed out at the 13:43 mark that opponents were 13/18 from 3 in the last two second halves against Kansas.
Julian Champagnie was the biggest factor in that run as he went 6-9 from behind the arc and finished with a Red Storm-high 24 points. St. John’s as a team finished 11-27 from 3 but just hit 43.6% from inside the arc.
Every time St. John’s made a run, Kansas had an answer. And in the second half, Christian Braun was the one doing the answering. Braun got to the rim at will as the Jayhawks first stretched the lead to 74-61 and then capped off an 18-2 run at 82-63.
Braun led all scorers and finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block, continuing his dominant run from the ESPN Events Invitational. Agbaji ended with an efficient 23 points on 9-16 shooting to go with seven rebounds, while McCormack had his best game of the season, collecting a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Remy Martin was also in double figures with 12 points to go with a team-high five assists.
Next up for the Jayhawks is another neutral court, this time heading to Kansas City to face UTEP at T-Mobile Center.