LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Perry Ellis and the Kansas Jayhawks took control early against Rhode Island.
Ellis scored 17 points and No. 11 Kansas beat Rhode Island 76-60 on Thursday in the opening round of the Orlando Classic.
“I think Perry is playing with more aggression without question,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Ellis had 11 points in the opening 20 minutes to help Kansas cruise to a 43-25 halftime lead. The Jayhawks went ahead 31-11 with just over 6 minutes before intermission on Ellis’ rebound slam.
“I just tried to keep attacking, that’s what coach is consistently telling me,” Ellis said.
Frank Mason III added 12 points for Kansas (3-1), which has a pair of victories since a 72-40 loss to No. 1 Kentucky on Nov. 18.
E.C. Matthews scored 20 points for Rhode Island (3-1), which was coming off a 66-62 overtime victory over then-No. 21 Nebraska on Saturday. Gilvydas Biruta had 16 points and seven rebounds.
“It was a lesson learned,” said Matthews, who was 6 of 18 from the field.
Ellis picked up his fourth foul with 11 minutes to play and Kansas up 52-38. A 3-point play by Cliff Alexander 3 minutes later gave the Jayhawks a 59-41 advantage.
“My teammates had my back,” said Ellis, who was on the bench for 7 minutes. “That’s what counts.”
Kansas held Rhode Island to 25.9 percent (7 for 27) shooting during the opening half. The Jayhawks shot 46.9 percent (15 for 32) from the floor in the half.
“The way they shot it in the first half I think was a little demoralizing because our game plan was to try to make them make perimeter shots,” Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said.
Jayhawks guard Devonte Graham returned and had 10 points after sitting out Monday’s 87-60 victory over Rider with a sprained shoulder. He appeared to get shaken up midway through the second half and went to the bench, but was back in with 4 minutes left.
Kansas: The Jayhawks are 3-1 or better for the 11th time in Self’s 12 seasons at the school. .. Self is 3-0 against Rhode Island, with two of wins coming at Kansas.
Rhode Island: The Rams are 13-92 against ranked opponents. … Rhode Island’s victory over Nebraska stopped a 22-game skid against Top-25 teams, dating back to a 70-63 victory over No. 25 Utah on Dec. 2, 1988. … The Rams are 1-3 against Kansas. The lone win was an 80-75 victory in the 1998 NCAA tournament, a season that Rhode Island reached the final eight.
Kansas outscored Rhode Island 30-14 in the paint, including 14-0 during the first half. The Jayhawks also won the rebound battle 40-31.
Kansas got 33 points off the bench, compared to Rhode Island’s 14.
Kansas will face Tennessee in the semifinals Friday. Tennessee beat Santa Clara 64-57 Thursday.
Rhode Island will play Santa Clara in the consolation round Friday.
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