LAWRENCE, Kan. —
McLemore took a backdoor feed on the game’s opening possession for an easy dunk. The 6-5 guard then brought a capacity crowd to its feet when he elevated midway through the second half to follow a 3-point miss by Johnson with another rim-rattling jam.
“Coach was telling me I need to crash the boards more often and stuff like that,” McLemore said. “When I had the chance to crash the boards, it came off perfect timing.”
Traylor got off to a slow start and was substituted for by Ellis in the opening minutes. But the T-Rob look-a-like got into the flow later in the half, and his basket off a feed from Releford with 6:11 remaining capped a 22-1 run that gave the Jayhawks a 34-15 lead.
Traylor then showcased his staggering athleticism in the second half when he picked the pocket of Emporia State’s Kaleb Wright and went the other way for a layup and a 51-27 lead.
McLemore finished with 11 points and Traylor had six points, while fellow freshman Andrew White III pitched in 10. Ellis was 5 for 5 from the field.
“They looked like freshmen that could run and jump,” Self said. “They don’t know what they’re doing but they try real hard.”
Indeed, there were certainly plenty of teachable moments for the Jayhawks, the unanimous pick by the Big 12’s coaches to win their ninth consecutive league title.
They committed a rash of turnovers against the undersized Hornets, along with getting beat to several loose balls. Withey never established himself inside despite a massive size advantage, and the Jayhawks struggled when they were forced to run half-court sets.
When they got into the open court, well, they looked just as dominant as usual.
“They’re just so unselfish with the ball,” Emporia State coach Shaun Vandiver said. “It’s not about the me, it’s about the we, and they’re very dangerous and very deserving of their ranking.”