Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Wiggins scored 16 points in his ballyhooed collegiate debut, and No. 5 Kansas held off a pesky UL-Monroe squad to open its 2013-14 season with an 80-63 win at Allen Fieldhouse.
Wiggins, the consensus No. 1 incoming recruit, led a balanced attack that enabled the Jayhawks (1-0) to record their 700th all-time victory at Allen Fieldhouse. Perry Ellis and Andrew White III each added 12 points, with the former pulling down eight rebounds in Kansas' tune-up for Tuesday's showdown with fourth-ranked Duke in Chicago.
"Our defense is just horrendous from what it needs to be, so we'll have to do some things differently," Jayhawks head coach Bill Self said of facing Duke. "We're going to have to handle the ball a lot better. It's a work in progress. We'll be a lot better two weeks from now than we are right now."
The Warhawks (0-1), coming off a dreadful 4-23 campaign, stayed with the more- talented Jayhawks for much of the way before running out of gas in the second half. Marvin Williams totaled a game-high 19 points in just 24 minutes, with Amos Alatayo finishing with 11 points in defeat.
"I thought that our team gave about 30 good minutes out there tonight," said Warhawks head coach Keith Richard. I was pleased by our guys' effort and playing hard. I think that if we stay on the right path we have a chance to win a few games this year."
Wiggins got his expected brief college career off to a good start, with the coveted NBA prospect draining a spinning runner on Kansas' opening possession. The Jayhawks started off slowly, however, with UL-Monroe owning a slim 15-13 edge seven minutes in after Tylor Ongwae's putback slam off an Olayato steal of Wiggins' errant pass.
Kansas responded with an 8-2 run to forge ahead, then began to assert itself near the midway mark of the half. Wayne Selden knocked down a baseline trey that was followed by Brannen Greene's jumper, with the buckets part of an 8-0 stretch that put the Jayhawks up 31-21 with seven minutes to go in the period.
The Warhawks continued to hang tough, though, trimming the deficit to 34-30 entering the final three minutes of the frame. However, Jamari Traylor completed a 3-point play and Wiggins buried a triple to quickly bring the margin back to double-digits.
"Efficient, that would probably be a pretty good way to put it," said Self of Wiggins' performance. "I thought he did some good things."
Kansas owned a 42-32 advantage at the break on the strength of a 52 percent percentage from the floor, though a 3-pointer from Nick Coppola and Williams' layup to begin the second half brought UL-Monroe back within five.
It was a six-point spread with under 16 minutes left before the Jayhawks were finally able to begin pulling away. A 9-2 surge capped by White's basket from beyond the arc staked KU to a 56-43 lead with 11:11 remaining, and the Warhawks hit just two field goals over the next six-plus minutes to further fall behind.
Kansas was ahead by a 72-52 count with 4 1/2 minutes to go before UL-Monroe made one last push. The Warhawks strung together a 10-2 burst, culminating in a pair of treys from Daniel Grieves, to cut the deficit to 12 with 2:35 left.
Wiggins came up with a steal and dunk shortly afterward, however, and a 3- pointer from Conner Frankamp with 1:19 remaining all but ended the upset bid while giving Kansas a 78-63 cushion.
GAME NOTES: Naadir Tharpe, Kansas' projected starting point guard, sat out the contest while serving a one-game suspension for participating in an unauthorized summer league game ... The Jayhawks are 700-108 all-time at Allen Fieldhouse, including a 162-8 mark under Self ... Wiggins was one of three freshmen in KU's starting lineup along with Selden and Frank Mason, who stepped in for Tharpe ... The only previous meeting between the schools was a 107-78 KU win in the 2007-08 season opener. The Jayhawks went on to win their first 20 games en route to their most recent national championship.