LAWRENCE, Kan. – Tennessee State coach Dana Ford forked over the cash to watch the online feed of Kansas playing in Italy last summer, and $40 for the pay-per-view of the Jayhawks' exhibition game against Missouri.
It was an investment made in scouting the Tigers' first opponent of the season.
"Wasted a lot of money," Ford said with a wry smile.
Lagerald Vick scored 23 points, Svi Mykhailiuk added 15 and the No. 4 Jayhawks ran roughshod over their Ohio Valley counterpart, beating Tennessee State 92-56 on Friday night in their only tuneup before heading to Chicago to face No. 5 Kentucky in the Champions Classic.
"They really shot it well," Ford said. "We obviously didn't do anything to help with that. But you have to give credit where credit is due. They were really, really good tonight."
Devonte Graham added 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds for the short-handed Jayhawks, who played without five-star prospect Billy Preston. The touted freshman forward was suspended for the opener after he missed curfew Thursday night and failed to show up for class Friday.
That wasn't the only message coach Bill Self sent, either. Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman lost his starting job to freshman Marcus Garrett after a lousy practice this week.
"Just take care of your business," Self said. "Everybody needs to be responsible."
Newman still finished with 12 points off the bench as the hot-shooting Jayhawks won their 43rd straight home opener. Garrett added 10 points while 7-footer Udoka Azubuike, who missed most of last year with a wrist injury, contributed 13 points and six boards in his return.
Darreon Reddick had 20 points and Delano Spencer had 14 for the Tigers, who watched the longer, stronger Jayhawks use a 14-0 run in the opening minutes to build a 56-27 lead by halftime.
Kansas made its first nine shots and wound up shooting 60 percent for the game.
"Exactly what we were looking for," Graham said. "We just have to try to start every game like that because it really got us going and sent a message to the other team."
The Jayhawks got sloppy early in the second half, turning the ball over five times in a 5-minute span, and their seven-man rotation appeared to wear down. But the Tigers were never able to string more than a couple baskets together, allowing the Jayhawks to empty their bench early.
That probably won't be the case against the Wildcats on Tuesday night.
Kansas and Kentucky are playing the nightcap of the annual doubleheader in Chicago, a matchup of two of college basketball's bluebloods. It should be an early barometer for teams with national championship aspirations, and an intimidating venue for Preston to make his collegiate debut.
The Wildcats overcame a sluggish start to beat Utah Valley in their opener Friday night.
"It'll be nice to see how much poise we have in a pressure situation," Self said, "but I certainly anticipate it not being pretty. But I do anticipate both teams playing very hard."
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
Garrett found out Thursday that he would start his college debut, but he was hardly intimidated by the stage. He also had 10 rebounds and a couple assists in 23 minutes. Asked whether he was surprised to start, the 6-foot-5 guard from Dallas replied: "Very."
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
The Jayhawks showed their inside-outside chops by knocking down 12 3-pointers and outscoring the Tigers 46-18 in the paint. They also had a 45-23 advantage on the glass and blocked seven shots, but an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers was a significant blemish on the final box score.
Tennessee State was overmatched in just about every facet, though the Tigers never gave up. That should serve them well not only against Texas and Purdue later in the non-conference season but when they open conference play in late December.
Kansas had a depth issue Friday night that should be somewhat assuaged later this season. Preston is due back next week, and Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible in December. But if injuries hit this season, the Jayhawks could require massive big minutes from a short bench.
Tennessee State gets a substantially easier test next in NAIA member Reinhardt on Monday night.
Kansas heads to Chicago to face the No. 5 Wildcats, who won both previous meetings in the Champions Classic. They'll take the floor after top-ranked Duke plays No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday night.