LAWRENCE, Kan. — Wayne Selden Jr. scored 18 points, Perry Ellis added 15 and fourth-ranked Kansas used a big second-half run to rout Loyola 94-61 on Tuesday night in Cheick Diallo’s much-anticipated debut with the Jayhawks.
Diallo, a five-star prospect from Mali, was the subject of an exhaustive investigation by the NCAA into his eligibility. He finally was approved to begin playing this week and had three highlight-worthy dunks, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks in 16 minutes.
The Jayhawks (5-1) led just 40-36 at halftime before going on a 15-1 run to start the second half. Diallo finished off the flurry by taking a behind-the-back pass from Selden, who was slicing down the lane, and flushing it over the Greyhounds (1-6) to give Kansas a 55-37 lead.
Diallo added another dunk off an ally-oop pass from Carlton Bragg a few minutes later, then nearly brought the building down with a breakaway dunk with 4 1/2 minutes left.
While the Jayhawks struggled on the boards early, and never got into an offensive rhythm until they came out of the locker room to start the second half, they still had no problem putting away an overmatched opponent from the Patriot League for their 26th straight win at Allen Fieldhouse.
That winning streak is tied for the eighth-best in school history.
Eric Laster had 16 points and Andre Walker had 10 for Loyola, which missed its first five shots and committed five turnovers to start the second half, when the Jayhawks went on their big run.
At least the Greyhounds hung around that long.
After blowing a big lead in a loss to Siena their last time out, they managed to stick with the Maui Invitational champions for the first 20 minutes Tuesday night. Loyola hit a trio of 3s to knot the game 34-all late in the half before Kansas eked out its halftime lead.
The second 20 minutes belonged to Diallo and the Jayhawks.
The 6-foot-9 freshman was held out the first five games while the NCAA examined his academic work from a New York prep school and his relationship with his guardian. Eventually, he was deemed to have accepted a modest amount of improper benefits, resulting in a five-game suspension.
That ended on Tuesday night, and Diallo was given a standing ovation when he first checked into the game. Several members of the student section even painted “FREE AT LAST” across their chests.
While raw on offense — Diallo has only been playing basketball about five years — he was active on the offensive and defensive glass. And his infectious energy and seemingly boundless enthusiasm helped the Jayhawks to pull away in what had been a tight game.