Kansas ‘hot’ from 3 in season opener

The Kansas bench celebrates a three by walk-on Evan Manning during the second half, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Evan Manning’s three-pointer off a pass from fellow walk-on Tyler Self with 1:43 left concluded the scoring for Kansas University in its 109-72 rout of Northern Colorado on Friday in Allen Fieldhouse.

The trey happened to be the Jayhawks’ 15th in 26 tries, just one off the school record of 16 hit against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2005.

“The guys were hot. We have a great shooting corps this year, which is always good,” Manning, KU’s senior guard out of Free State High, said after the Jayhawks’ best long-distance-shooting performance since canning 15 against American on Dec. 29, 2012.

“Frank (Mason III, nine assists, two turnovers) and Devonté (Graham, eight assists, one turnover) did a great job getting in the paint, making plays for other guys to knock down easy jump shots. We have such good shooters on this team. Brannen (Greene, 5-for-5 from three), Svi (Mykhailiuk, 1-for-2), Wayne (Selden Jr., 3-of-6), Devonté (2-of-6), Frank (3-for-3) can all knock down shots. It’s something we saw today.

“There are going to be days we don’t make shots like this,” Manning added, “where we’re going to have to win it on the defensive end. Luckily, we were out there making shots early and in the second half.”

Manning was asked if the Jayhawks can consistently hit from three during 2015-16.

“That’s the goal,” Manning said, “but you can’t expect to come in and make shots. You have to come in and win on the defensive end. That’s something coach (Bill Self) always emphasizes. We have to get better at it (defense). We gave up too many points. We’re going to keep working and get better for Michigan State.”

KU will next meet Tom Izzo’s Spartans, 1-0 after Friday’s 82-55 victory over Florida Atlantic approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday in Chicago.

Back to Friday’s season-opening victory … KU had seven players score eight or more points and hit 55.7 percent of its shots. The percentage from three-point land was even better at 57.7 percent. KU hit 26 of 34 free throws for 76.5 percent.

“This team … we’re a really close group of guys. We’re always around each other. There’s a great sense of camaraderie,” Manning said. “We work hard every day to try to get a little better every day.”

That goes for non-scholarship player Manning, who has hit five threes in 13 tries in his career for 38.5 percent.

“Today I got a good pass from Ty to knock down the shot. It was a good play on his part getting me open,” Manning said, adding, “Guys on the team are so good, it’s hard to not get better if you play hard.”

The Jayhawks who were not in the game at the time particularly enjoyed Evan’s three, exploding on the bench.

“We told ourselves we were going to do ‘The Dolphin’ (dance move) if he hit one. Three seconds later, he knocked down a three. It was crazy. Good job, Evan,” junior guard Greene said.

About MSU’s opener: Big Ten player-of-the-year candidate Denzel Valentine had 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in Michigan State’s 82-55 season-opening victory over Florida Atlantic. He’s a 6-foot-5 senior from East Lansing, Michigan. Senior forward Matt Costello had 15 points and seven boards, 6-10 freshman Deyonta Davis 13 points and 11 boards and senior guard Bryn Forbes 12 points, including three threes.