No. 7 Jayhawks cruise past Emporia State, 88-54


No. 7 Jayhawks cruise past Emporia State, 88-54

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Perry Ellis led No. 7 Kansas in scoring Tuesday night. He was second on the team in rebounding, pitched in a couple of assists and didn't commit a turnover in his college debut.

Just think: Jayhawks coach Bill Self believes the freshman will only get better.

Ellis finished with 15 points and seven boards in the 88-54 exhibition victory over Emporia State, and helped to drive a big first-half run that put the game away early.

``He scores the ball easy,'' Self said. ``He's got such a nice touch with the ball. I thought he played well, but I still think he can be a lot more aggressive.''

Yes, Self is always going to find a fault.

``But he could be a really good player early in his career,'' he conceded. ``He did good.''

So did the rest of the Jayhawks' newcomers, who will be counted on to fill the shoes left by All-America Thomas Robinson, a first-round NBA draft pick, and Tyshawn Taylor, the senior guard who helped lead Kansas to the brink of a national championship last season.

The Jayhawks lost to Kentucky in the title game in New Orleans.

Elijah Johnson had 12 points against the Hornets, a Division II school from southeastern Kansas. The senior came off the bench because he was ``substantially late'' for a class, Self said.

Johnson is one of three returning starters and the top returning scorer. Seven-footer Jeff Withey, the Big 12's defensive player of the year, added seven points and six rebounds, and Travis Releford added seven points and three assists.

This one was all about the freshmen, though.

Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor both made statements in their first taste of playing in Allen Fieldhouse. The duo was part of last year's freshman class, but was forced to redshirt after they were deemed by the NCAA to be partial qualifiers. They practiced with the team the second semester but were not allowed to suit up until this season.

McLemore took a backdoor feed on the game's opening possession for an easy dunk. The 6-5 guard then brought a capacity crowd to its feet when he elevated midway through the second half to follow a 3-point miss by Johnson with another rim-rattling jam.

``Coach was telling me I need to crash the boards more often and stuff like that,'' McLemore said. ``When I had the chance to crash the boards, it came off perfect timing.''

Traylor got off to a slow start and was substituted for by Ellis in the opening minutes. But the T-Rob look-a-like got into the flow later in the half, and his basket off a feed from Releford with 6:11 remaining capped a 22-1 run that gave the Jayhawks a 34-15 lead.

Traylor then showcased his staggering athleticism in the second half when he picked the pocket of Emporia State's Kaleb Wright and went the other way for a layup and a 51-27 lead.

McLemore finished with 11 points and Traylor had six points, while fellow freshman Andrew White III pitched in 10. Ellis was 5 for 5 from the field.

``They looked like freshmen that could run and jump,'' Self said. ``They don't know what they're doing but they try real hard.''

Indeed, there were certainly plenty of teachable moments for the Jayhawks, the unanimous pick by the Big 12's coaches to win their ninth consecutive league title.

They committed a rash of turnovers against the undersized Hornets, along with getting beat to several loose balls. Withey never established himself inside despite a massive size advantage, and the Jayhawks struggled when they were forced to run half-court sets.

When they got into the open court, well, they looked just as dominant as usual.

``They're just so unselfish with the ball,'' Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver said. ``It's not about the me, it's about the we, and they're very dangerous and very deserving of their ranking.''

Gavin Brown had 14 points to lead the Hornets, who lost 60-49 to Tulsa in their exhibition opener Tuesday night. Wright had five points on 2-of-13 shooting.

The Jayhawks play their final exhibition game Monday night against Washburn. The Hornets wrap up their exhibition schedule Sunday at Kansas State.

``I thought we played about like I thought we'd play,'' Self said. ``We did a few good things.''

Quick Links

Justin Timberlake shows he has game at Wizards practice court

USA Today Sports Images

Justin Timberlake shows he has game at Wizards practice court

Apparently Justin Timberlake is also good at sports. The pop star showed he has a pretty decent jumpshot while playing on the Wizards' practice court on Sunday ahead of his concert at Capital One Arena.


Timberlake knocked down a halfcourt shot and then two three-pointers in a row. It was all shared on video through his Instagram account and then tweeted by the Wizards.


Wizards owner Ted Leonsis was among the many to attend Timberlake's concert and he put out a series of pictures and videos on social media:


Timberlake is also, of course, an NBA owner himself. He holds a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies. No wonder he's good at basketball. He can use their practice court any time he wants.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Three Monday visitors to Redskins Park could determine team's free agency strategy going forward

USA Today Sports Images

Three Monday visitors to Redskins Park could determine team's free agency strategy going forward

The Redskins are having three visitors today in Ashburn. Depending on how they go, they could mostly be done with free agency or still pushing to fill some needs.

They have been making an effort to hire one of the top defensive linemen on the market since before free agency actually started. They had former Jet Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit last Tuesday, something they could do because Wilkerson had been released. The team put on a good sales push that lasted most of the day, but Wilkerson left without a deal. Shortly after he left he decided to sign with the Packers.

They made runs at Dontari Poe and Sheldon Richardson, but they signed with the Panthers and Vikings, respectively. The prospects were looking slim until the Colts decided to cut Jonathan Hankins on Saturday. He weighs 320 pounds and turned 25 on January 1. Hankins probably isn’t going to make any All-Pro teams or post double-digit sacks, but he will help you stop the run for the next half-decade, at least. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s the Redskins’ biggest defensive problem for the last several seasons.


Hankins is visiting today and he is someone the Redskins would very much like to sign. The other two visitors may be fallback plans.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is a veteran who can play in the slot. That is what the Redskins are looking for but Scandrick does not appear to be their first choice. Last week they had former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in for an extended visit that included a physical. However, they could not come together on money. Scandrick, who has missed time with injuries in each of the last two years, could be an alternative to Rodgers-Cromartie or it could be that he is being used to put some pressure on the Redskins’ preferred choice.

Edge rusher Pernell McPhee is also clearly a second choice. The Redskins have an offer on the table for Junior Galette to return. He tweeted yesterday that the Redskins were the best fit for him but that the money “has to be fair.”

McPhee has played well but injuries have limited his impact the last two years. He started the 2016 season on injured reserve with a knee injury and he missed a total of seven games. Last year he missed three games with shoulder and knee injuries.


The Redskins likely are interested in McPhee for the right price. That price is considerably less than the $7 million he was going to make from the Bears this year before they let him go on February 26. There does not seem to be a hot market for his services; he has been a free agent for three and a half weeks and this is his first reported visit.

The Redskins would rather bring back Galette, who was much more effective as a pass rusher last year than his three sacks would indicate. But the price has to be right for both sides and apparently there is some work to be done towards working that out.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.