Kansas will head into a three-game stretch at the ESPN Events Invitational with a tweak to its rotation.
With the No. 4 Jayhawks (3-0) winning by 22.7 points on average, coach Bill Self has provided minutes to several newcomers and tried different combinations.
Those substitutions, however, may get trickier with the return of Jalen Wilson, who is coming off a suspension following a DUI arrest and will be available when Kansas opens Thursday against North Texas (2-1) in Kissimmee, Fla.
Wilson figures to “fit right in,” Self said, while anticipating the sophomore should be a 30-minute contributor. Last season, Wilson averaged 28.3 minutes, started all but one of the 29 games he played and averaged 11.8 points and 7.9 rebounds.
“He’ll definitely add rebounding and the thing I hope he adds as much as anything is speed,” Self said. “He is the best we have at pushing it. Who do we want to get the ball to? Jalen in transition, far more so than our guards just because we play faster.”
Injuries could factor into Self’s options after Remy Martin (back) and Bobby Pettiford (hip) missed each of the Jayhawks’ practices since they beat Stony Brook last Thursday. Martin, the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, went scoreless in that game.
Backup Jalen Coleman-Lands, who has provided some instant punch off the bench after transferring from Iowa State, is playing with a broken bone in his toe.
Ochai Agbaji has been on fire, scoring 25 or more points in each of the first three games while extending his streak of starts to 80. He is one point shy of the 1,000 mark for his career.
Agbaji, who ranks among the nation’s top scorers, said he has focused on consistency, while “not going out with a total in mind like points or anything like that, just being assertive and consistent.”
His hot hand makes Agbaji an easy target for Dajuan Harris, who averages a team-high 5.3 assists.
“My job is to get him open shots and if I can do that, I feel like we’ll be a pretty good team too,” Harris said.
North Texas held an opponent below 40 points while stifling Texas-Arlington 64-36 last Thursday. The Mean Green jumped to a 26-3 margin and held UTA to just 12 points in the first half.
“We played 22 minutes of really good offense and great defense,” said Abou Ousmane, who scored a career-high 11 points. “We got a little sloppy in the second half and we know we have to clean that up if we want to compete for another championship, but obviously (we’re) really proud of our performance.”
Fifth-year coach Grant McCasland has guided UNT to two Conference USA titles and its first NCAA Tournament victory last season. The Mean Green claimed the C-USA tournament title a year ago.
North Texas is led by Thomas Bell, who is coming off a season-high 19 points after outscoring Texas-Arlington by himself in the first half, and Tylor Perry, who averages a team-high 17.3 points.
–Field Level Media