Published January 08, 2015
Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Perry Ellis had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three steals in the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks' 69-59 season-opening win over the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
Kansas went 25-10 in 2013-14 and won its unprecedented 10th straight Big 12 Conference regular-season title. However, a 60-57 loss to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA Tournament left a bitter taste in the mouth of a squad which had won at least 30 games in each of the previous four seasons.
The Jayhawks then had to deal with the offseason losses of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, both of whom took off for the NBA after stellar freshman campaigns.
Devonte Graham had 14 points off the bench for the Jayhawks (1-0), who won their 42nd straight season opener at Allen Fieldhouse. Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr. added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
"I knew coming in that I had an opportunity to play some big minutes," Graham said. "Just work hard and do what I'm supposed to do and the opportunity presents itself. So I tried to take advantage of it."
Alan Williams, the Big West Player of the Year last season, had 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Gauchos (0-1), who went 21-9 in 2013-14.
"You had guys out there you know uncharacteristically missing shots," Williams said. "That's something that we're not accustomed to. We're a better shooting basketball team than we showed out there today."
Down 15-14 early on, Kansas went on a 9-0 run to pull ahead, with Graham scoring six points during the spurt. The Jayhawks led 31-23 at the half.
UCSB refused to go away and made one last push early in the second half. The Gauchos put together a 10-0 run to get within 39-37 with 14 minutes left.
It was 44-41 moments later when the Jayhawks went on a 15-3 run to put the game away.
Kansas easily got past UCSB in the only other meeting between the two squads, rolling to a 72-52 victory early in the 2003-04 season ... The Jayhawks went 23-of-32 from the foul line.