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Kansas rolls past Tennessee State in season opener

Gary Bedore, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Basketball

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Bill Self was correct to assume his Kansas basketball players would be fired up for Friday night's regular-season opener against Tennessee State.

Self, the Jayhawks' 15th-year coach, who maintained his No. 4-ranked squad "should be jacked and excited" about playing in a real game after an unusually long three-game exhibition season, saw his Kansas team blast the Tigers, 92-56, just four nights before Tuesday's Champions Classic showdown against Kentucky in Chicago.

Big 12 preseason player of the year Devonte Graham, who set the tone in the opening seconds by cashing a 3-pointer and flushing a breakaway dunk off a steal, had a stellar season debut for Kansas.

Graham, a 6-foot-2 Raleigh, N.C., native, scored 10 points and added a career-high 12 assists and seven rebounds in 31 minutes. He was three boards shy of a triple-double.

Graham had 10 points, five assists and four boards the first half in helping KU to a 56-27 halftime lead.

"We had a pretty good shoot-around," Graham said. "We were energetic, and guys were talking, running through the plays, shooting the ball well. I kind of felt that energy, and we came out and played with it.

 

"You can tell the season's here and every game matters. I'm excited and glad we got the win."

Senior Svi Mykhailiuk, who hit 3 of 16 3s in the preseason, iced 3 of 6 3-pointers and scored 15 points for Kansas. He had 11 points in the first half on 3 of 5 3-point shooting.

Junior Lagerald Vick, who had a vicious left-handed dunk the first half, totaled 23 points, tying a career high.

KU freshman Marcus Garrett, starting in place of highly-acclaimed sophomore Malik Newman (12 points), finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Udoka Azubuike had 13 points and six boards as the Jayhawks made good use of their seven scholarship players plus walk-on Clay Young. Young (three points) hit a free throw after getting body-blocked by Tennessee State's Delano Spencer in the first half and getting awarded two charities from that foul.

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