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Thomas Robinson steps up as No. 13 Kansas blasts Towson

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson showed off their speed in Kansas' backcourt -- at overmatched Towson's expense.

Thomas Robinson had 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals, and Travis Releford added 14 points to help No. 13 Kansas rout Towson 100-54 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

But the Jayhawks are so obviously quicker with guards Taylor and Johnson, who were suspended for both exhibition games.

"It makes our team a lot quicker on the perimeter," Releford said. "We move a lot faster with those two guys out there."

Taylor, a senior point guard, had 12 points and four assists, while Johnson had eight points and eight assists.

"Speed," Robinson said. "They had a lot to do with why we looked so fast and more athletic tonight."

Robinson, a 6-foot-10 junior getting his first chance to start with the departure to the NBA of the vaunted Morris twins, led Kansas in what counts as the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Connor Teahan had 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting for Kansas.

Robert Nwankwo had 14 points for the Tigers, who are one of the youngest teams in the nation and coming off a 4-26 season. Kris Walden and Marcus Damas each had 11 points.

"If it's possible to be underrated at 13th in the country, I think Kansas is," Towson coach Pat Skerry said. "They were terrific on both ends of the court tonight."

When Skerry was at Providence, he tried to recruit Robinson.

"He's a beast and he's locked in," Skerry said. "I wouldn't have liked to see him play so well against us, but I wish him luck the rest of the year. He's tremendous."

The Tigers, who claim to be the only team in the country returning only one letter winner, had 23 turnovers and were never able to compete with the taller, quicker Big 12 co-favorites. Kansas wound up with 30 assists and only five turnovers -- none in the second half.

"I don't know if we've ever done that, 6 to 1," said Kansas coach Bill Self, 130-7 at Allen Fieldhouse. "I thought we did some really good things. I thought we pressured the first 10 minutes."

With Releford and Johnson hitting two 3-pointers each, the Jayhawks scored 35 of the game's first 45 points, capped by Johnson's steal and driving dunk at the 9:58 mark.

But the Jayhawks got sloppy and the inexperienced Tigers took advantage, fashioning an 8-0 run and outscoring Kansas 19-18 to slice the halftime lead to 53-29.

"They started getting in a rhythm. I'll give them credit for that," Releford said. "But we also wasn't getting after it how we were the first 10 minutes of the game. We kind of let them catch it wherever. They kind of got going."

Jervon Pressley's basket got the lead back down into the 20s at 71-43, but after Walden's 3-pointer made it 73-46 early in the second half, the Jayhawks unleashed an 11-0 run with Teahan hitting his third straight 3-pointer and 7-footer Jeff Withey fighting under the Kansas basket to dunk for an 84-46 lead.

In the first 10 minutes Robinson brought the crowd to its feet with a variety of moves, including a big dunk right after freshman Naadir Tharpe had completed a three-point play. Teahan had a basket and added a 3-pointer to put the Jayhawks on top 65-35 early in the second half. A few minutes later, Teahan's 3-pointer made it 78-43.

Walden stole the ball from Taylor and drove in for a layup to help fuel Towson's late surge in the first half, followed by two field goals by Nwankwo. Taylor and Tharpe hit 3-pointers in the final minutes for the Jayhawks, who won their 10th straight season opener.

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