Key play: Make it any one of Jeff Withey’s three blocks. On a night when KU perimeter shooting was abysmal, the defense had to step up, and it did. Especially Withey, who finished with five blocks.
Key stat: Kansas shot 28 percent from the field, and outshot the Redhawks, who hit 21 percent.
Key play: Perry Ellis completed a three-point play off a nice bounce pass from Jamari Traylor to give KU a 54-41 lead and a little breathing room after Southeast Missouri cut the margin to six.
Key stat: Kansas made 11 of 13 free throws, and went 24 of 28 from the stripe in the game.
Exhibition games were one thing. But this was the first college game that counted for the newcomers, and freshman Perry Ellis was ready. “The first game, it was a different environment for me,” said Ellis, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. “But I was confident.”
• With Michigan State next on the schedule, KU coach Bill Self wants to see a little more fire in the belly. “It blows my mind that we are not an aggressive group,” Self said. “We are a passive group right now and we have to pick it up. I’ll keep saying it and I won’t back off of it. We’re going to play against real guys real soon.”
| Blair Kerkhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org