The junior swingman and Kansas City native opened KU's scoring with two three-pointers and scored 11 of the Jayhawks' first 22 points. Kansas broke open a 10-9 game at the 16:08 mark with a 19-0 run, and never looked back. Senior forward Darnell Jackson and junior guard Mario Chalmers scored six and five points, respectively, during the run, while Rush and sophomore guard Sherron Collins each made a trey.
KU (10-0 for the 11th time in school history) seemed to feed of Brandon Rush's hot start. Jackson was definitely excited to see his roommate starting his first game of the season in Kansas City.
"I told him before the game, ‘You're at home, let's go out there and play,'" Jackson said.
Rush responded in a big way.
"I was motivated because this was my first start in a while so it felt to good to get out there at the beginning of the game and set the tempo early and make some open shots and just help our team out, " Rush said.
KU held the Bobcats to just 17.2 percent field-goal shooting the first half and 28.3 percent for the game. Meanwhile, the ‘Hawks finished the contest shooting a scorching 54.8 percent from the field and dominated the boards (46-27).
While Kansas couldn't unleash a big run in the second half, the Jayhawks led by as many as 35 points (75-40) with 6:22 remaining in the game.
Chalmers led all scorers with 17 points, while also dishing out five assists and recording four steals. Sophomore forward Darrell Arthur played an aggressive game on both ends of the court, posting 14 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Senior guard Russell Robinson controlled the game at the point with a career-best 11 assists, the most assists by a Jayhawk since Aaron Miles had 11 against Iowa State on Feb. 21, 2001.
KU coach Bill Self praised his team after the game, especially the guard play.
"I think the reason why we've played better of late is primarily because of Russell and Mario," Self said. "He (Mario) is playing great. He is playing the best since he has been here and he is doing everything. ...Russell was terrific. He didn't score a point in the first half until the very end, but he still controlled the game. We are so much better when he pressures the ball."
Self was happy with the way his team put a "foot on the throat" against Ohio in the first half. After the Bobcats scored a bucket to stop KU's 19-0 run, Kansas immediately stormed out with another big run (13-2).
"We've been in games many times where we let teams hang around," Self said. "The guys did a good job of finishing the half."
Although KU was a little sloppy the second half with nine turnovers, this was the Jayhawks' best game of the year. KU overmatched Ohio down low with their size, and as Arthur said, the ‘Hawks "took their guards out of the game." The Bobcats' starting guards (Michael Allen and Bubba Walther) shot a combined three of 13 from the field.
Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea was mighty impressed with the Jayhawks.
"Multiple guys on that team are going to have careers in the NBA," O'Shea said. "I've watched a lot of basketball this year, and there are three or four teams that could win the national championship. I think it's Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, and North Carolina. I think Kansas may have the most (talent). We knew what we were up against when we came in here."
For Rush, it was a happy homecoming in KC. He grew up just five to 10 minutes from the Sprint Center.
"It was good to (play at) home for the first time in about a year," Rush said. "This place is great. Nice atmosphere, it's big. I think it's probably the best arena I've been in a while. It's so much better than Kemper (Arena). I think it's beautiful out there, just the way they got everything set up. It's like an NBA arena. The floor was pretty bad (in Kemper). It was real slick. I can't wait to come back (to the Sprint Center) and play in the Big 12 (Tournament)."
Arthur gives the Sprint Center high props as well.
"I thought it was sweet," he said. "It kind of felt like the (Dallas) Mavericks stadium (American Airlines Arena) a little bit. I just loved the court and everything. It's bouncy."
Now, KU goes on the road to face Georgia Tech on Tuesday in a 6 p.m. ESPN showdown.
Rush knows Kansas will be ready.
"I think we've come together pretty well," Rush said. "We've got everybody back and everybody is healthy. We are starting to play good basketball right now. We are sharing the ball and getting the ball down low to our big men."