Pitt State's Rodney Grace hit a short jumper at the 16:15 mark of the first half to tie the game at nine points apiece. KU proceeded to outscore the Gorillas 46-12 the rest of the period, taking a 55-21 lead into the locker room.
Freshman forward Thomas Robinson scored 10 first half points on the way to 17 for the game, including four dunks, one of which made newborn babies at Lawrence Memorial Hospital cry. He showed the motor that Kansas coach Bill Self has raved about since he arrived on campus.
"I thought he played with a pretty good motor tonight," Self confirmed. "He can run, he's strong. He's not as tall as some prototypical power forwards, but he goes after balls."
He continued, "The other thing is, he's got a soft touch on the ball. His free throws are nice and soft, and he's gonna get fouled."
Robinson was self-deprecating when asked to assess his own performance.
"I just wanted to come out, play hard and help us get better," Robinson said. "Get us ready for the season."
Robinson scored six points in his first three minutes of play. He said that getting involved early is good for his game, but he doesn't have to score points to feel engaged.
"It can be anything for me – rebounding, steals, blocks," he said.
Robinson was one of seven Jayhawks in double figures. F Marcus Morris came off the bench and scored 14; G Sherron Collins had 13; G Tyshawn Taylor and Markieff Morris had 12; G Xavier Henry and C Cole Aldrich chipped in 10 each.
Markieff Morris led the Jayhawks with 10 rebounds and Marcus added eight more to go with Robinson's seven.
In a first half loaded with athletic plays and sequences, however, none was bigger than Marcus Morris' dunk off a Taylor rebound and no-look, over-the shoulder pass.
Taylor picked up a long rebound off a missed PSU three-pointer by Andy Smith and headed for the Kansas basket with Morris close behind. A Pitt State defender managed to step between Taylor and the basket. Taylor tossed the ball with his right hand back over his left shoulder, hitting Morris in full stride. The 6-8 sophomore went up and tomahawk dunked the ball with extreme malice over a second Gorilla defender, who also fouled Morris on the play. He completed the three-point play.
"I was surprised (Taylor) didn't throw it through his legs or something because that's what he does in practice," Morris said. "I was waiting for him to throw it through his legs and he put it behind his head. I just finished it."
The second half wasn't as flashy but it was just as overwhelming for the out-manned Gorillas. KU started the half on a 35-7 run. At the 9:40 mark, KU had scored 29 points in the half; PSU had scored 26 in the game. The Gorillas went 6:10 without a bucket in one second-half stretch.
Self said that he expects Aldrich and Collins to lead the team in scoring once the regular season gets underway and the competition gets a little stiffer, but he's very pleased with his three outstanding freshman and where they're at this early in their careers as Jayhawks.
"They're better than I thought they'd be," Self acknowledged. "I think everyone thought Xavier (Henry) would be a great prospect, but I don't think everyone thought Thomas (Robinson) and Elijah (Johnson) would be the players that they are. I think all three have performed at a higher level than any of us thought they would."
Self said that a month ago, Johnson was a virtual lock for a red shirt year.
"Now he's a guy who could be a 20-minute-a-game guy," Self speculated.
Johnson finished the game with just three points and two rebounds, but he picked four steals and dealt four assists against just one turnover in 26 minutes.
Kansas tips off the regular season in venerable Allen Field House this Friday night against Hofstra. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Other game notes
- The win over Pitt State was KU's 35th straight exhibition win dating back to 1995. KU is 46-4 in exhibition play in Allen Field House, and Bill Self is 21-0 coaching exhibition games.
- KU topped the 100-point plateau in both their exhibitions.
- The 58-point margin of victory is the sixth-largest in exhibition history and the biggest since Kansas beat Emporia State, 120-51, in 2000.
- Marcus Morris' 12-point, 10-rebound performance would have been his first career double-double. Ten boards would also have been a career high.
- Four steals for Sherron Collins would have been a career high.
- Kansas outscored Pittsburg State 54-14 in the paint.
- KU scored 40 points off 33 PSU turnovers.
- The Gorillas' 33 turnovers were the most by a KU opponent since, well, the Gorillas did it back in 1995.
- The Jayhawks made their first 11 free throws before Xavier Henry missed the front end of and one-and-one. KU finished the night connecting on 21 of 29.
- In the two exhibition games, KU scored 109 combined points in the first halves and shot 59 percent from the field (36-for-61).
- Coach Bill Self and KU athletics presented retiring Pittsburg State coach Gene Iba with a piece of the old Allen Field House floor and a nice pregame tribute. Iba has won nearly 500 games during a lengthy and distinguished coaching career. He coached the Gorillas to their first-ever #1-ranking and has helped Pitt State make five trips to the NCAA DII championship tournament. He started his coaching career as an assistant under his uncle, the legendary Dr. Henry Iba, at Oklahoma State.
- I've seen it a million times now, and it's official: no shot in the history of the NCAA tournament was more clutch than Mario's three in San Antonio. If you disagree, you are a crack baby.
- The over/under on the number of times Big 12 official Steve Welmer pulled up his pants was set at 57 ½. If you had the over, congratulations! Collect your winnings.
- I realize KU's opponent was Pitt State from the MIAA and not Pittsburgh of the Big East; nevertheless, Cole Aldrich has become a really good passer from the high post.
- Xavier Henry smiles like my teenaged son eats: all day long.
- There were a few surprises in the personnel department. G Conner Teahan saw first half action, putting his red shirt possibilities to rest. Walk-on G Jordan Junemann entered the game with 7:40 left and scored a point and grabbed two rebounds. G Chase Buford played six minutes, scoring one and rebounding one.
- One player indicated that G Travis Releford and F Mario Little would be red shirting this season. Self said that no final decisions had been made but that those two would indeed be likely candidates.