Created: 11/22/2013 9:35 PM
(AP) LAWRENCE, Kan. - Towson knew it had to keep Kansas from getting out into transition, and if the Tigers could make a few 3-pointers of their own, they’d have a chance to hang with the Jayhawks.
All of that went by the wayside in the first few minutes Friday night.
The second-ranked Jayhawks had three dunks by the first media timeout, and used a big early run to seize control. All Kansas had to do was coast in the second half to an 88-58 victory in its opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
"Transition defense was our big key and then obviously not turning the ball over," Towson coach Pat Skerry said. "They do such an unbelievable job pulling it off the backboard and running it right down your throat. You’d like to have about seven guys to get back defensively."
No amount of defenders would have been able to stop the Jayhawks’ on this night, though. Led by Andrew Wiggins’ 16 points, Kansas outscored Towson on the fast break 29-8.
Andrew White III added 13 points, Wayne Selden had 12 and Perry Ellis 10 for the Jayhawks, who head to the Bahamas to continue the tournament against Wake Forest on Thanksgiving Day.
"I think it’s suffice to say they’re pretty good," Skerry said. "If there’s a better team in the country I’d like to find out who they are, and I certainly don’t want to play them."
Jerrelle Benimon had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Towson (3-2), which knocked off Temple earlier this season. Rafriel Guthrie scored 15 points off the bench.
The Jayhawks had struggled early in games this season, allowing at least 35 points in the first half of each of them. But they had no trouble against the Colonial Athletic Association favorite, putting together a best-of reel in the first half.
While Towson settled for a cacophony of quick 3-pointers, ill-advised shots in the paint and tightly contested jumpers, the Jayhawks turned the misses into 22 first-half fast-break points.
"The game plan was basically get in the half-court defense more and then try to push it," Benimon said. "We weren’t making shots so we couldn’t really keep them out of transition."
The Tigers were still within 27-14 with 7:42 left in the half, but they only managed one field goal from there as Kansas used a 22-2 finishing flurry to blow the game open. Wiggins scored nine of his 14 first-half points during the run, and was involved in both of the highlights.
The first came after a miss by the Tigers’ Timajh Parker-Rivera. The ball ended up with Frank Mason, whose pretty one-bounce, cross-court pass to Wiggins resulted in an easy dunk.
The second highlight came after Mike Burwell missed and Mason again got the ball in the open court. He fed it to fellow freshman Conner Frankamp who, rather than take a mildly contested layup, added one extra pass like a seasoned veteran that Wiggins slammed with two hands.
By the time White was fouled in transition and made the second of two free throws with 1.4 seconds left on the clock, the Jayhawks had built their huge halftime advantage.
"When we’re playing our game, no one can stop us," Wiggins said. "When we play in the flow of the game, no one can stop us. We have too many tools to use."
Kansas wound up shooting 69 percent from the field during the opening 20 minutes, had a 23-11 advantage on the boards and outscored the smaller Tigers 26-10 in the paint.
Towson shot 20.7 percent from the field and missed all 10 of its 3-point tries.
The Jayhawks didn’t slow down much in the second half, racing up and down the court like it was a YMCA pickup game. Black had another big dunk during one stretch, Frankamp curled in a 3-pointer and Kansas coasted to its 66th consecutive non-conference win at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks won’t return to the friendly confines of the Phog for close to a month. After the Bahamas, they visit Colorado and Florida along with playing New Mexico at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. They return home to play Georgetown on Dec. 21.
"I think potentially we could be one of the better teams, no question," Self said. "I think by the end if our young kids get better, we have a chance to be in the conversation."