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Collins, Kansas overpower Tennessee State

Nov 22, 2006 - 3:08 AM LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- Kansas relied on freshmen and sophomores last season, so it's no wonder Sherron Collins fits in so well.

A highly touted freshman guard, Collins scored 19 points to lead the 12th-ranked Jayhawks to an 89-54 rout of Tennessee State in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Since its stunning season-opening loss to Oral Roberts, Kansas (3-1) has run off three straight wins and will head to Las Vegas this weekend to face Ball State on Friday followed by a much-anticipated matchup with top-ranked Florida on Saturday.

One of the nation's top recruits last year, Collins was perfect in the first half, scoring 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including three 3-pointers.

"We just got defensive stops and got the ball through the zone by running our zone plays," Collins said. "We moved the ball and got (Tennessee State's) zone off balance. My teammates got me open looks and I knocked down the big shots."

Collins hit back-to-back shots from the arc to trigger a 25-4 run as Kansas turned a 20-14 lead into a 45-18 cushion.

The Jayhawks ran off 18 straight points during the surge and ended the half on Brandon Rush's 3-pointer for a 50-19 advantage.

"I thought we played really well early," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "Sherron was a big spark for us off the bench and made some big shots. Our defense was good the first half and we rebounded the ball better."

The Jayhawks also got a lift with the return of junior center Sasha Kaun, who had yet to play in the regular season due to a knee injury.

"It was great to get back out there with the guys," Kaun said. "It was very nice to be back playing in Allen Fieldhouse in front of the fans. It was definitely a lot of fun."

With Saturday's marquee game against Florida looming, the 6-11 Kaun will provide Kansas with much-needed size, especially since his backup, C.J. Giles, was dismissed from the team before the season due to an on-campus incident involving his girlfriend.

"We got a huge spark by Sasha being in there," Self said. "Yesterday's practice was the best one we've had in a while because we had a guy in there who could finally beat the heck out of somebody. He did a great job tonight with limited minutes. He looked fairly comfortable, a little winded. He will be sore, but they told us to expect that."

Rush and Julian Wright scored 14 points apiece for Kansas, which shot 55 percent (31-of-56) from the floor.

"Kansas is a very talented team," Tennessee State coach Cy Alexander said. "Their loss to Oral Roberts really has seemed to awaken them. We thought we would play matchup zone against them and force them to shoot from the outside. They did a really good job of shooting the ball."

Clarence Matthews scored 18 points for Tennessee State (0-2), which shot 32 percent (18-of-57).

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