The game’s loudest roar was at halftime, boos streaming from every side of Wells Fargo Arena.
Kansas forward Perry Ellis couldn’t figure out what was going on, and in the layup line, teammate Jamari Traylor thought his team had done something wrong.
Instead — in top-seeded KU’s 105-79 victory over 16 seed Austin Peay on Thursday afternoon in the NCAA Tournament’s first round — fans were responding to the arena’s videoboard, was showing a live feed of the Baylor-Yale game before someone decided to turn it off.
About a minute later, the game returned.
Guard Brannen Greene admitted his eyes were on the screen for a short time. Traylor said he glanced up some before KU director of student-athlete development Fred Quartlebaum told him that the team needed to focus on its own game; he stopped looking up after that.
Landen Lucas, meanwhile, was able to peek to see the final seconds of Yale’s 79-75 upset victory over Baylor, the moment reminding him of what KU had gone through with second-round losses to Stanford and Wichita State the last two seasons.
“We know how fast it could end,” Lucas said, “and we know we have to stay focused and not let any letdowns happen.”
There was no such disappointment Thursday, as KU continued No. 1 seeds’ perfect all-time record in their first-round games.
The Jayhawks weren’t challenged after the opening minutes, taking a 48-28 halftime advantage with no player logging more than 27 minutes.
“A lot of people got to play, just to get a little feel for what it’s like,” Ellis said. “I feel like it will be big going forward.”
As one might have expected, KU coach Bill Self wasn’t pleased with his team’s defense. Though it was a high-possession game, the Jayhawks surrendered their third-most points in a victory this season and also struggled with fouls while allowing 37 free-throw attempts.
“I don’t think our players did a good job of adjusting (to whistles) at all,” Self said. “I felt like we were defensive on defense.”
Efficient offense was more than enough to carry KU, though. The Jayhawks made 61 percent of their twos, racked up 58 points in the paint and also ran at every opportunity while letting their athleticism overwhelm the Governors (18-18).
“We’re quite honestly not equipped to handle a team like that inside,” Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said.
KU, 31-4, will face ninth-seeded UConn on Saturday around 6:45 p.m. Central on CBS. The Huskies defeated eighth-seeded Colorado, 74-67, earlier Thursday.
The blowout victory allowed Self to take it easier on his top players. Ellis scored 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting in 25 minutes. Lucas had 16 points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes, with only five of those coming in the second half.
About 45 minutes after their victory over Austin Peay, KU players and coaches gathered around an elevated TV in the corner of the locker room. Twelfth-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock trailed Purdue, 75-73, with 25 seconds left in overtime.
“Play to win!” assistant coach Kurtis Townsend yelled out.
“Shoot the three!” added fellow assistant Jerrance Howard.
“Are they a 13 seed?” guard Svi Mykhailiuk asked.
Turns out the Jayhawks are like most of the rest of the country when it comes to the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend — a fact that was evident during halftime as well.
Guard Devonte’ Graham admitted to looking up at the Baylor game a couple times, saying he had the Bears advancing a few rounds in his personal bracket.
“I was shocked. I didn’t expect them to lose,” Graham said. “That’s March Madness.”
Greene, like Lucas, said the sting of previous years was fresh in his mind as he watched Baylor’s season end.
“Me, Wayne (Selden) and Frank (Mason), we haven’t made it past the first weekend yet,” Greene said. “So our real big test is coming up Saturday.”