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

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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.''

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3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

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