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No. 2 seed Jayhawks rout No. 15 seed NMSU Aggies 75-56 in opener

Second-seeded Kansas did its best to restore some luster to the Big 12.

Well, at least scrub away some of the tarnish.

Frank Mason III scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack, and the Jayhawks rolled to a 75-56 victory over No. 15 seed New Mexico State on Friday, giving their beleaguered conference its first NCAA Tournament victory in four tries this March.

Perry Ellis added nine points for the Jayhawks (27-8), who did their part in setting up a tantalizing matchup with seventh-seeded Wichita State in the Midwest Region’s round of 32.

The Shockers played No. 10 seed Indiana in their opening game later Friday.

DK Eldridge had 11 points and Remi Barry and Tshilidzi Nephawa scored 10 each for the Aggies (23-11), who had won 13 straight while sweeping the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

After a stunning day of upsets Thursday, lowlighted by an 0-3 mark from the mighty Big 12, the Jayhawks made sure to rob any drama from its opener at the CenturyLink Center.

They shot holes in the Aggies’ unorthodox zone, going 9 of 13 from beyond the arc. They turned just about every turnover into a run-out. And they ran ragged New Mexico State’s veteran starters, who had not allowed an opponent to score 70-plus points in their last 24 games.

In fact, the rim played better defense against Kansas for much of the game.

Ellis missed a dunk in the opening minutes. Mason and Landen Lucas each missed bunnies. Wayne Selden Jr. even got the ball on a fastbreak, elevated high above the rim and then realized he was going to come up short on a dunk, missing a desperation lay-in instead.

Kelly Oubre Jr. even clanked a dunk on an alley-oop pass off the iron early in the second half.

All those easy misses didn’t put the Jayhawks in danger, though. All they did was keep New Mexico State from an even more lopsided defeat in its fourth straight NCAA trip.

Cold from beyond the arc late in the season, the Jayhawks heated up in front of a heavy pro-Kansas crowd. Ellis knocked down an early 3, Oubre added another, and Devonte’ Graham hit consecutive 3s that gave the Big 12 regular-season champs a 34-16 lead late in the first half.

The Aggies tried to make a run out of the locker room, trimming their deficit to 12 on a few occasions. But after Johnathan Wilkins’s putback with 8 minutes to go made it 55-43, the Jayhawks went on an 11-2 run over the next couple of minutes that pushed the advantage past 20.

Kansas coasted from there to its ninth straight win in an NCAA Tournament opener.


New Mexico State: Aggies coach Marvin Menzies remained winless in 17 tries against ranked opponents. … New Mexico State has not won a tournament game since beating Nebraska in 1993. … The Aggies’ win streak had been the third-best in Division I.

Kansas: Ellis, the Jayhawks’ leading scorer, still appeared hobbled by a sprained right knee. … The Jayhawks improved to 3-0 against the Aggies. … Kansas won the national title in 2008 and reached the Final Four in 2012, the last two times it opened a tournament in Omaha.


New Mexico State: Season over.

Kansas: No. 7 seed Wichita State or No. 10 seed Indiana.

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