LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Bill Self dared Ben McLemore to be more aggressive Thursday night.
If the freshman guard hadn't heeded the challenge, seventh-ranked Kansas could have left the court inside Allen Fieldhouse with consecutive losses for the first time in ages.
McLemore wound up with 25 points and eight rebounds, and teamed with Elijah Johnson to trigger a big second-half charge, allowing the Jayhawks to escape with a 69-55 victory over Chattanooga.
"I just wanted to get my teammates involved, too," said McLemore, who added three assists, all despite dislocating his finger twice in the second half. "I just came in tonight with the mindset of being aggressive, like coach wants me to be every night."
The Jayhawks (2-1), coming off a loss Tuesday night to Michigan State, got off to a sluggish start against the Mocs, and still trailed 42-30 in the opening minutes of the second half.
Jeff Withey began their comeback with a basket inside, Johnson ripped a 3-pointer and McLemore slammed down the first of back-to-back highlight-reel dunks to trigger a 27-4 run over the next 12-plus minutes. Kansas merely had to go through the motions down the stretch to wrap up the win.
"Ben showed a glimpse of his athletic ability tonight," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "Defenses are going to be designed to stop Ben, and we don't know how to run offense yet. We're still trying to figure it out, and to me that was pretty impressive tonight."
Farad Cobb was just as impressive: He was 6 of 7 from beyond the arc in the first half, and added another 3-pointer in the second half to finish with 31 points for Chattanooga (1-1).
"They just locked us up defensively," Chattanooga coach John Shulman said. "They came back and made some shots. Once you make a shot, it kind of changes how everything looks."
Kansas managed to extend the nation's third-longest home-court winning streak to 25 games despite having more turnovers (9) than field goals (8) in the waning minutes of the first half.
That's when things were still tenuous for the Jayhawks.
And when Cobb couldn't miss.
The freshman guard made his first 3-pointer in the opening minutes, and then after a miss, connected on five straight to finish off the half. Two of them came on consecutive possessions just before the break that helped lift Chattanooga to a 36-28 lead.