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October 30, 2012

With family on hand, Ellis has big night

Aside from playing before 16,300 fans for the first time in his career, freshman Perry Ellis made his debut inside Allen Fieldhouse with family and friends in attendance. On a night when Kansas dominated Emporia State, 88-54, Ellis scored a game-high 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

"I just tried to play the system," Ellis said on Tuesday night. "I was just playing through the system and playing hard. I don't really show much emotion, but I had a lot of fun out there. Working with those guys (teammates) all summer, tonight was a lot of fun.

"It means a lot having my family and friends here to watch me tonight," he added. "My family got the chance to come out and see me, it's not too far for them to drive, so it's a great feeling that they came to support me."

It's hard to imagine Ellis not working his way into the starting rotation at some point this season. Against Emporia State, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward from Wichita, Kan., connected on 5-of-5 field goals and was 5-of-7 from the free-throw line. In 16 minutes of action, Ellis also pulled down seven rebounds, dished out two assists and was credited with one steal.

As good as Ellis was on Tuesday, he is nowhere near close to being a finished product. In watching the former McDonald's All-American on the court, it's easy to see that he's got all the necessary tools to be extremely successful at the highest level.

Still, as Bill Self stated following Tuesday's game, Ellis must learn how to play the game with more aggression. For Ellis, playing with an aggressive mindset will be key moving forward.

"Its just something you've got to do in practice," said Ellis when talking about being more aggressive. "You've just got to work on going hard every possession on the court, and that's something I really need to work on.

"I'm just happy to be out here," he added. "It was a great win and we played well. We moved the ball well and played great defense. It was a great first game. I've just got to have a tough mindset and work hard. You've got to work hard and do your best."

Ellis was joined in double-figures by Elijah Johnson (12), Ben McLemore (11) and Andrew White (10). Sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe added eight points, Travis Releford seven points, Jeff Withey seven points, Jamari Traylor six points, Landen Lucas six points and Justin Wesley four points.

Lucas pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, while Traylor was credited with a game-high four steals. Rio Adams, who finished with just one point, was an absolute spark on the defensive end of the court.

Overall, Self was pleased with the effort his squad played with on Tuesday night.

"I thought we did some good things," said Self. "We tried hard and looked pretty athletic. I thought we shared the ball. We had 23 assists on 31 baskets. Andrew (White III) had five or six turnovers by himself. I thought everyone else did a pretty good job taking care of the ball. Defensively, we tried hard. We don't know how to guard all actions, but there weren't that many breakdowns.

"Our freshmen did well," he added. "Perry (Ellis) did really well. He just naturally gets the ball in the basket. Anrio Adams was terrific. We haven't had anyone heat up the ball like that since Jeff Hawkins. Landen Lucas in his minutes was the most productive guy we had. It was good to see those young kids play well. We saw how athletic Ben (McLemore) and Jamari (Traylor) are. There were some good things that happened tonight."


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