KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- Kansas put on an impressive outside-inside show for the home fans.
Freshman J.R. Giddens scored 17 points, including a pair of emphatic dunks in the second half, as the fourth-seeded Jayhawks pulled away for a 78-53 victory over No. 13 Illinois-Chicago in the first round of the St. Louis Region.
Playing less than an hour from its Lawrence campus, Kansas was lethal from the outside in the first half, making its first six shots, including three 3-pointers, and building a 38-23 lead.
The Jayhawks coasted in the second half, with Giddens highlighting a 17-0 run with a one-handed dunk with 8:22 remaining. In his NCAA Tournament debut, the 6-5 guard made 6-of-8 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 3-pointers.
"Our defense allowed us to come back with easier buckets and run and score off the secondary break," Giddens said.
Keith Langford and Wayne Simien added 13 points apiece for Kansas (22-8), which has won 21 consecutive first-round games. The Jayhawks and first-year coach Bill Self face 12th-seeded Pacific on Sunday in the second round.
"I thought our defense for the majority of the game was really good and we really rebounded the bal well, especially on the defensive end," Self said. "We ran poor offense, but shot a great percentage."
Cedrick Banks scored 15 points but made just 5-of-18 shots for Illinois-Chicago (24-8), which had a 12-game winning streak snapped.
"It was a great season," Flames coach Jimmy Collins said. "I know a lot of people are sitting at home, having a beer, criticizing us but wishing they could be here instead of us."
The game was not without its anxious moments for Kansas. The injury-plagued Simien slipped while playing defense and appeared to aggravate a groin injury with 6:23 left in the first half. He was back in the second and led the Jayhawks with nine rebounds.
"Just like everybody in the room, I was breathless," Giddens said. "I knew he would get up, but I was like, 'Let him get up, please.'"
"He's hurting, certainly, but the thinking was you're trying to win today," Self added. "We are a lot better basketball team when he's in the game. ... Plus, he said he was fine and the doctors were back there and said he needed to try and play."
The Jayhawks committed 25 turnovers but limited UIC to 31 percent (20-of-64) shooting and had a 41-26 rebounding advantage.
"We did a very good job and forced them into 25 turnovers, but we couldn't score," Collins said. "All year, we've been riding one or two shooters. We were waiting for them to step up and neither one did."