KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) It took Carlton Bragg Jr. about 20 minutes to knock the rust off.
Took about the same amount of time for Kansas.
Playing for the first time in a week, the third-ranked Jayhawks were sluggish in falling behind pesky Davidson on Saturday night. But they dominated in the paint in the second half, began getting into transition and ran away from the Wildcats for an 89-71 victory at Sprint Center.
Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III led the way with 18 points apiece, but Bragg added seven points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes in his return from a brief suspension.
“He didn’t really play well in the first half,” Mason said, “but we told him in the locker room, `Stay aggressive, stay confident,’ and that’s what he did. I was happy to have him back out here.”
Bragg had been suspended following his arrest on suspicion of battery, but the misdemeanor charge was dismissed this week after video evidence surfaced that showed him acting in self-defense. The woman who had accused the sophomore forward of shoving her has been charged instead.
“I thought Carlton played well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Svi Mykhailiuk also had 13 points for the Jayhawks (10-1), who extended their nation-leading home winning streak to 49 games. Kansas considered the matchup with the Wildcats (5-4) a home game even though it was played just down the road from its campus in Lawrence.
It was the Jayhawks’ eighth straight win in the building, including the Big 12 Tournament last season and the CBE Classic a few weeks ago. It’s also the same building where they will not only contest the league tournament in March but hope to land in the NCAA Tournament with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
Peyton Aldridge hit five 3s and had 22 points to lead the Wildcats, while Jack Gibbs – the nation’s fourth-leading scorer coming into the game – had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
“We had a great opportunity in front of us and for about 25 minutes I thought we handled it very well,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said, “and then I think the statistics bear out they just annihilated us in the paint, and they annihilated us in transition.”
Davidson spoiled the holidays for the Jayhawks nearly five years ago to the day when it rolled into the same building and upset a team that would reach the Final Four. And just like that night, the Wildcats relied on superior toughness and a bevy of 3-pointers to cause all kinds of problems Saturday night.
Davidson hit seven 3s in the first half alone, taking a 43-42 lead into the locker room. The only other time the Jayhawks have trailed at the break this season came in a win over Duke.
Kansas was 0 for 8 from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Wildcats extended their lead to five early in the second half before Jackson finally hit from the perimeter. Mason added another 3-pointer, and the Jayhawks clawed their way back in the game.
It was 58-all with just over 11 minutes left when Landen Lucas converted an alley-oop dunk, triggering a 10-2 run that allowed Kansas to seize control. Mykhailiuk hit a 3-pointer during the run, and Bragg Jr. hit a bunch of free throws to cap it.
Kansas later pushed the decisive charge to 20-4 as it wrapped up its 10th straight win.
“They’re a team that really moves a lot on offense, set a lot of screens. It was kind of hard to keep up with our man out there,” Jackson said, “but I think we made a couple – What am I trying to stay? – we made a couple of adjustments on defense that really helped us out.”
STATS AND STREAKS
Kansas had a 48-22 advantage in the paint, including a 23-9 edge on second-chance points. … The Jayhawks scored 16 points off turnovers. Davidson managed two. … The Wildcats wrapped up a stretch of seven of eight games away from home. … Aldridge needs four more points for 1,000 for his career./
Davidson finally gets a break in the schedule. The Wildcats lost to fifth-ranked North Carolina their last time out, the first time they’ve played back-to-back games against Top 5 opponents since 2008.
Kansas showed that it could overcome a lethargic outing to win a game. The Jayhawks have barely been challenged since their win over Duke on Nov. 15 in New York.
Davidson plays Jacksonville on Wednesday night in its first home game since Nov. 26.
Kansas visits UNLV on Thursday night in its last game before Big 12 play.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org