LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Brannen Greene missed most of the offseason after hip surgery, and his hip locked up again on him earlier this week, just before Kansas rolled through its exhibition finale.
The Jayhawks’ best shooter looked just fine Friday night.
Greene hit all five of his 3-point attempts, including a buzzer-beater to end the first half, and scored 18 points to help No. 4 Kansas roll to a 109-72 victory over Northern Colorado.
“It feels pretty good to finally do well in the game,” Greene said. “It felt good. I didn’t feel anything in the game and I don’t feel anything right now.”
Perry Ellis added 16 points and Wayne Selden Jr. scored 13 for the Jayhawks, who piled up their most points since playing Longwood during the 2010-11 season. Devonte Graham had 13 points and eight assists, and Frank Mason contributed 11 points and nine assists.
“Coach wanted us to play fast,” Ellis said, “and we did that.”
Kansas cruised to its 25th straight win at Allen Fieldhouse despite playing without five-star recruit Cheick Diallo, who still has not been cleared by the NCAA to play in games.
Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali, spent the game in warmups while the NCAA looks into his academic record from a private school in New York. The NCAA has given no timetable for rendering a decision, much to the chagrin of Kansas fans who chanted “Free Diallo” all night.
The Jayhawks could use him the next time they step on the floor. After this pedestrian opener, they head to Chicago on Tuesday night to face No. 13 Michigan State in the Champions Classic.
“No disrespect, but it was Northern Colorado,” Greene said. “We should be more athletic than them. We got Michigan State coming up and that’ll be an honest, real good test for us.”
Cameron Michael had 27 points and Anthony Johnson finished with 17 for Northern Colorado, which struggled with foul trouble as much as the Jayhawks’ length and athleticism.
“Scheduling this game seemed like a good idea about a year ago,” Bears coach B.J. Hill said.
After a 3-pointer by Jordan Wilson with 6:50 left in the first half trimmed the Jayhawks’ lead to 29-23, the reigning Big 12 champs ripped off a 21-6 run to seize control. Much of their offense came from the foul line, where the Jayhawks went 12 of 15 in the first half alone.
Northern Colorado had two players with three fouls apiece, and six more with two, heading into the break. All told, the Bears had more fouls (18) than rebounds (14) or field goals (12).
“They got a lot of leads in transition, so we’re chasing from the get-go just because they push it so well,” Michael said. “You can’t afford to be chasing or trailing the play at all.”
Greene and Co. put the game out of reach early in the second half, leaving the only question whether Kansas would reach 100 points for the 107th time in school history.
The Jayhawks soared past it on Greene’s fifth 3-pointer with 4:14 left.
“He’ll score 18 points on six shots, that’s a pretty good game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He was on fire, but everybody played well.”
Kansas: The Jayhawks hit 15 3-pointers, tied for the second-most in school history. They hit 16 at Baylor on Jan. 5, 2005. … Kansas finished with 27 assists. … The Jayhawks’ reserves scored 46 points. … Touted freshman Carlton Bragg Jr. had seven points and three boards.
Northern Colorado: The Bears return just two starters from last year’s 15-15 team. They have no seniors on the roster. … Northern Colorado finished with 35 fouls.
“There’s nothing like this in all the country. Every player wants to play in an atmosphere like this.” – Michael on his first experience playing in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas plays the Spartans in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.
Northern Colorado plays its home opener against Colorado Christian on Tuesday night.