LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) While the rest of his teammates were enjoying a holiday trip to Hawaii, and winning a title at the Maui Invitational, Brannen Greene was shooting baskets in an empty gym in Kansas.
Talk about a punishment.
Suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, the smooth-shooting forward was reinstated by Jayhawks coach Bill Self in time for Wednesday night’s game against Holy Cross. He responded by hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 14 points in a 92-59 rout of the Crusaders.
“Definitely felt good to get back on the court,” said Greene, who has declined to discuss what led to the suspension. “Me and coach, we had a sit-down, we talked. I dealt with my punishment. Looked at it as a positive and tried to get back on the court.”
Self had told Greene the previous day that he would suit up.
“Let me make this real clear, we don’t need to get on the same page. He needs to get on our page,” Self said. “And we had several, or a few, good talks initially, really good talks. His attitude has been really good and I think he wants to be part of what we’re doing here.”
Wayne Selden Jr. had 15 points to lead all scorers. Frank Mason III added 13, Perry Ellis and Cheick Diallo scored 12 apiece, and Devonte Graham finished with 10 for the Jayhawks (7-1), who blew most of a 20-point lead before building an even bigger margin in the second half.
“I told them, `Don’t go near an offensive rebound. A shot goes up, just get back,”‘ Crusaders coach Bill Carmody said, “and they still beat us back in transition.”
Karl Charles led Holy Cross (3-6) with 12 points. Malachi Alexander had 11.
Kansas played without forwards Landen Lucas, out with a toe injury, and Jamari Traylor, who has been dealing with a sore ankle. Both suited up and participated in warmups, but Self decided to start Hunter Mickelson and give his two big men the night off.
“They got the shaft tonight in some respects because they could have played, but I didn’t see any reason to do it,” Self said. “It wasn’t anything negative that they’ve done.”
Besides, it wasn’t like the Jayhawks needed either of them.
The reigning Big 12 champs resembled the high school team from “Pleasantville” in the first half, making nearly every shot that went up. They were 8 of 10 from beyond the arc, connected on 70 percent of their field goals and even managed to make all four of their foul shots.
The lead reached 20 at one point late in the half, and Mason converted a 3-point play on a drive to the basket to give Kansas a 50-33 advantage at the break.
The Crusaders stubbornly stuck with their 2-3 zone in the second half, though, and for a while it allowed them to climb back into the game. Kansas missed four of its first five shots, and Holy Cross ripped off a 13-2 run to get within 52-46 with less than 16 minutes left in the game.
But like they have in 97 of their previous 101 non-conference home games under Self, the Jayhawks proved to be too much. Ellis answered the run with a bucket in the paint, Graham took his own steal in for a dunk, and Mason’s 3-pointer from the corner restored order.
Kansas pushed the lead back to 20 on Selden’s two free throws, and right past the mark when Diallo followed up Selden’s miss with a dunk to help put the game away.
“The pressure got to us, forced some turnovers and we sort of lost control of things,” Carmody said. “It’s a very good team, and it’s a good passing team – there didn’t seem to be any greedy guys out there.”
The Jayhawks weren’t the only ones who couldn’t miss. Holy Cross shot 55 percent from the field in the second half, and they were 19 of 23 from the foul line for the game.
Holy Cross: Anthony Thompson had four points on 1-for-9 shooting. He had 23 points against Albany in his last game. … The Crusaders beat Kansas in December 1949 with Bob Cousy on the roster.
Kansas: Graham also had five assists before leaving with what appeared to be a minor injury in the second half. … Kansas wound up 12 of 20 from 3-point range and shot 63 percent from the field.
Holy Cross travels to Hartford on Saturday night.
Kansas plays Oregon State on Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo.