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Agbaji scores 25, No. 3 Kansas beats Tarleton 88-62

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) drives to the basket against USC during the first half of a...
Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) drives to the basket against USC during the first half of a men's college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(Paul Sancya | AP)
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 9:30 PM CST
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Ochai Agbaji scored 25 points and third-ranked Kansas beat Tarleton 88-62 on Friday night to run its winning streak in home openers to 49 straight.

Christian Braun added 15 points, Remy Martin had 14 and Jalen Coleman-Lands 10 for the Jayhawks (2-0), who got all they could handle from the Texans (0-2) after cruising past Michigan State in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.

Tarleton was within 63-50 with about 6 1/2 minutes left before the Jayhawks pulled away down the stretch.

Shamir Bogues had 20 points and Montre Gipson had 19 for the Texans, who were supposed to play Kansas last season but had the trip scuttled by a COVID-19 outbreak. Tarleton ended up missing six games and didn’t play for an entire month.

Kansas allowed about 2,000 fans for most home games last season, when many schools across the country were playing in front of empty stands. But this was the first time in nearly two years that Allen Fieldhouse was filled to the rafters.

For a while, everything seemed normal.

Bill Self excoriated the officials for every perceived miscue. The vocal student section razzed the Texans every time they missed a shot. The Jayhawks executed their familiar ally-oop dunk out of a timeout. And by the time the game drew to a close, the crowd began the haunting refrain of “Rooock. Chaaalk. Jaaayhaaawk.”

Tarleton didn’t make it easy getting there, though.

When the Jayhawks pressed their lead to 25-12 on back-to-back baskets by Agbaji, the small WAC school - playing just its second season of Division I basketball - ripped off nine straight to get back into the game. And when Kansas stretched the lead again to 33-22 late in the first half, Gipson went on a personal 7-0 run to claw the Texans right back.

They trailed 39-31 at the break; Gipson and Bogues had all but two of their points.

They hung around most of the second half, closing within 63-50 on Javontae Hopkins’ basket with 6 1/2 minutes to go. But Dajuan Harris Jr. answered at the other end, Agbaji his second 3-pointer and David McCormack threw down a dunk as the lead hit 20 points for the first time and the Jayhawks began to pull away.

BIG PICTURE

Tarleton, a longtime Division II powerhouse, certainly isn’t afraid of playing anyone. Billy Gillispie also scheduled games against sixth-ranked Michigan and top-ranked Gonzaga before December rolls around. Regardless of how the Texans fare, that experience should prove invaluable by the time league play begins.

Kansas had a big rebounding advantage but struggled to outscore the Texans in the paint, even though they started nobody taller than 6-foot-6. The 6-10 McCormack was particularly ineffective with six points and eight rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Texans continue a Sunflower State swing by facing Wichita State on Tuesday night.

The Jayhawks play Stony Brook on Thursday before heading to the ESPN Events Invitational.

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