NEW YORK (AP) Christian Braun had a career-high 31 points, Ochai Agbaji scored 23 and No. 8 Kansas emphatically turned back a second-half charge to beat St. John’s 95-75 on Friday night in the first basketball game at new UBS Arena.
Senior forward David McCormack, off to a slow start this season, was a force inside with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Jayhawks (6-1), who have bounced back from a one-point loss to Dayton last week with consecutive double-digit wins.
Remy Martin added 12 points and five assists, and Kansas clamped down on defense late in a game that was part of the annual Big East-Big 12 Battle.
Julian Champagnie scored all but four of his 24 points after halftime for the Red Storm (5-2), who were facing their first ranked opponent of the season in a matchup of programs rich in history that met for the 1952 NCAA title.
Posh Alexander, hobbling at times with a lower right leg injury, and Dylan Addae-Wusu each scored 16 points for St. John’s, which was playing playing less than 8 miles from campus.
Kansas, which traveled about 1,270 miles, has more wins in the glimmering new building than the NHL team it houses.
Depleted by COVID-19 absences, the New York Islanders are 0-4-1 in their $1.1 billion home that opened two weeks ago at Belmont Park.
Champagnie hit his first five 3-point attempts in the second half as St. John’s whittled a 13-point halftime deficit to three on two occasions.
But then Agbaji responded with a 3 and a putback, and Kansas went on an 11-0 spurt to take command. St. John’s went almost five minutes without a point and nearly eight minutes without a basket as the Jayhawks pulled away.
It was their second victory in New York this season after opening with an 87-74 win over Michigan State on Nov. 9 in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Kansas: The loss to Dayton on a buzzer-beater in Florida last week dropped the Jayhawks four spots in the AP poll, but they rebounded with a 96-83 win over Iona on Sunday in Orlando. Hall of Fame coach Bill Self is still toying with a deep rotation and demanding much better defense. Kansas has used at least 11 players in all seven games.
St. John’s: With a deep roster featuring two stars back from last season’s surprising 16-11 squad in Champagnie and Alexander, the Red Storm have legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations after getting picked fourth in the Big East coaches’ poll. But they’re still melding five accomplished Division I transfers and a couple of touted freshmen with three returnees, and have barely squeezed by at home lately against some of the weak competition that makes up a soft nonconference schedule. St. John’s lost by two at Indiana last month and this was probably its only other opportunity for a significant resume boost outside the Big East.
TIES THAT BIND
Kansas assistant Norm Roberts was the head coach at St. John’s from 2004-10, going 81-101 in six seasons without an NCAA Tournament berth. … The only appearance for St. John’s in the national championship game was an 80-63 loss to Clyde Lovellette and Kansas in 1952 as Phog Allen coached the Jayhawks to their first of three NCAA titles. … Kansas redshirt Kyle Cuffe Jr., a freshman guard from Harlem in New York City, is the son of the former St. John’s power forward. Kyle Cuffe Sr. played for the Johnnies from 2000-04 and averaged 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds as a senior. ”Definitely supporting my son and Kansas but I bleed red storm,” he posted Thursday on Twitter. … St. John’s freshman forward O’Mar Stanley is from Overland Park, Kansas. … It was the 14th meeting between the schools and first since November 2000 at Madison Square Garden. Kansas has the second-most wins among major college basketball programs, while St. John’s ranks ninth.
Kansas: Will host UTEP on Tuesday night in Kansas City, Missouri, before renewing an old border rivalry with Missouri on Dec. 11 at Allen Fieldhouse.
St. John’s: Back on campus Sunday night to face New York City foe Fordham in the 89th meeting of a series that dates to 1909. St. John’s is 18-0 against the Rams at Carnesecca Arena/Alumni Hall.
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