LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)Ochai Agbaji had 18 points and Christian Braun added 16 as No. 4 Kansas beat North Texas 71-59 in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational on Thursday.
Agbaji became the 63rd player to reach 1,000 points in Kansas history when he hit a 3 to open the scoring 2 1/2 minutes into the game. The guard entered the game just one point away from the milestone.
Kansas is looking to win its seventh in-season tournament in a row.
”These events are important,” Kansas guard Remy Martin said. ”We want to go home with the championship, ultimately. That actually motivates you, wanting to win, wanting to win the championship.”
North Texas (2-2) got 23 points from Tylor Perry. All other scorers for the Mean Green were held to single digits, including Thomas Bell, who picked up his fifth foul midway through the second half and finished with nine points.
”Give Kansas all the credit, they were more aggressive than we were,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. ”They attacked the basket better. I’m proud of the way we responded after being down early the game. Found a way to claw back in it and give ourselves a chance.”
North Texas got within 35-27 at the half after trailing by 13.
KU (4-0) went up 46-31 early in the second half thanks to Martin hitting a pair of a long-range shots and Braun making a 3-point play after a steal. Martin, who had 15 points, recently has been slowed by back discomfort.
”I’m OK,” Martin said. ”We’re doing a lot of great treatment. I’m just in there consistently trying to get a little better.”
A dunk by Agbaji and another Martin 3 extended the advantage to 53-35 with 14 minutes left.
Kansas forward Jalen Wilson had seven points over 18 minutes in his first game of the season. He was suspended for the first three regular-season games after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.
”I thought he was pretty good,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. ”That will probably the least he plays all year. He needs to be out there. We’re better on offense when he’s in the game. Jalen Wilson will figure out a way how to make us better.”
North Texas went 4 for 27 on its 3-point tries, while Kansas made 6 of 14.
Kansas: Had scored 87 points or more in each of its first three games but had scoring droughts of 21/2 and 31/2 minutes during the first half, and another 2 1/2-minute dry spell in the second.
North Texas: Returned just six players from the 2020-21 squad that earned the school’s fourth NCAA tournament trip and first-ever tournament win with a 78-69 overtime victory over Purdue.
Kansas: Plays Dayton in a semifinal Friday. The Flyers beat Miami 76-60 on Thursday.
North Texas: Faces Miami on Friday in the consolation round.
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