Kansas Jayhawks, Jalen Wilson

Jalen Wilson’s big game propels the Kansas Jayhawks past the North Dakota State Bison.

On a rainy Thursday night in Lawrence, the Kansas Jayhawks started strong and didn’t look back, defeating the North Dakota State Bison 82-59. Jalen Wilson led the way with 21 points and freshman Gradey Dick followed up a strong debut with 12 points on the night.

Takeaway #1: MJ Rice’s presence can elevate the Jayhawks to a championship level

After missing the exhibition game and season opener, MJ Rice made his debut tonight, and the 4-star freshman made a huge impact. He totaled 8 points and 3 rebounds and added a block to the stat sheet. That might not be jaw-dropping numbers, but his energy on the court provided the Jayhawks with a huge boost early on. With the game against Duke being next on the calendar, expect Rice’s minutes to increase and him to eventually become the 6th man.

If Rice can serve as a go-to scoring option off the bench, similar to what Remy Martin did last year, then the Jayhawks can be legitimate title contenders again.

Takeaway #2: Zach Clemence continues to play himself out of the rotation

With David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot graduating and Cam Martin suffering a preseason injury, the center spot was Clemence’s to lose, with many preseason projected rosters slotting him into the starting lineup. Instead, he’s been invisible the first two games, with zero points and two fouls today after a zero-point performance the game before.

The small lineup has worked for Kansas basketball, and with KJ Adams and now Ernest Udeh clearly asserting themselves over Clemence based on performance, minutes will get harder and harder to come by.

Takeaway #3: Starting KJ Adams and Dajuan Harris has worked so far, but is it sustainable?

Both Adams and Harris share one thing in common, they are elite defenders, but really struggle to score the ball. That hasn’t shown to be an issue on the offensive end so far, thanks to the combination of Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick scoring at a high level, and the defensive combo making it very difficult for opponents to score.

With that being said, Omaha and North Dakota State aren’t exactly on the same level as their Big 12 opponents will be, and Tuesday’s matchup against Duke will be a great test to see if this will work.

If it doesn’t work, KJ would obviously be the one to go, but how do they fix this? Does MJ Rice insert himself into the starting lineup or do they go with the traditional big in Ernest Udeh? Until that’s a problem, Kansas basketball shouldn’t mess around with the lineup, but it’s definitely something to keep in the back of their minds as the season progresses.

Next game for the Kansas Jayhawks: Nov. 15th vs Duke: 9:30 PM ET (ESPN)

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