TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Frank Mason III scored 22 points and had eight assists as top-seeded Kansas won its opening game of the NCAA Tournament for an 11th straight year with a 100-62 victory over UC Davis on Friday night.
Freshman Josh Jackson, making his return after a one-game suspension for an accumulation of embarrassing incidents, added 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Jayhawks (29-5).
The win ensures top seeds will remain perfect since the tournament expanded, with the schools now 132-0 against No. 16 seeds.
Five players finished in double figures for Kansas, with Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham adding 16 points each and Landen Lucas 13.
Chima Moneke scored 20 points to lead the 16th-seeded Aggies (23-13), who were in their first NCAA Tournament. Brynton Lemar added 17 and Siler Schneider 10 in the loss.
The last time Kansas lost an opening-round game of the NCAA Tournament was as a No. 4 seed in 2006 to a Bradley team led by current UC Davis coach Jim Les.
Despite Les’ experience and past success as a lower seed against the Jayhawks, the weary Aggies — two days removed from winning their First Four game in Dayton — began to fade midway through the first half against a rested Kansas team.
The Jayhawks hadn’t played in eight days since losing to TCU in the Big 12 Conference Tournament quarterfinals, and they closed the half on a 29-7 run to lead 50-28.
UC Davis: The Aggies had won seven of eight games, including the Big West Conference Tournament to reach Friday’s game. Les and senior Darius Graham provided one of the more emotional moments of the game, however, when the two embraced for nearly a minute after Graham exited the game with 1:45 remaining.
Kansas: Whether Jackson’s suspension played a role or not in the Jayhawks’ early exit from the Big 12 Tournament, Kansas appeared back in top form with its star freshman’s return. The 6-foot-8 guard started and played 23 minutes, putting together a highlight-reel performance that included several impressive finishes at the rim while adding seven rebounds.
The Jayhawks advance to face the Michigan State-Miami winner on Sunday.