LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas had better hope things get better when Brandon Rush returns from ACL surgery in a few weeks.
The fourth-ranked Jayhawks (2-0) struggled for the second time in a row against an overmatched opponent Sunday night before putting away plucky Missouri-Kansas City 85-62 in the Kangaroos' first game under new head coach Matt Brown.
Mario Chalmers had 23 points -- and two of Kansas' four missed dunks -- while the Jayhawks shot just 16 of 31 from the foul line.
"I thought our defense was better than what it was the other night, but it still has a lot of room to get better," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It was good for us to sweat and to play under some duress. We did poorly at executing, blocking out and free-throw shooting at times. Still, we win by 23. But we have to get better."
The Jayhawks (2-0) led the Kangaroos (0-1) only 62-52 when Jeremiah Hartsock hit a short jumper midway through the second half.
Chalmers responded by hitting an open 3-pointer, his fourth of the night. But the Kangaroos refused to go quietly.
"I thought, truthfully, that we outhustled them tonight," Brown said. "I think they are a terrific basketball team and I think they have a chance to go to the Final Four, but I think in terms of effort, we were right there with them."
As the Kangaroos hung around and cut the lead to 67-55 on Dane Brumagin's 3-pointer, visions of Oral Roberts' 78-71 upset of then-No. 3 Kansas in the Jayhawks' second game last season came to mind.
But Darnell Jackson made a short shot and after Chalmers missed his second dunk, Jackson hit again, and then followed Hartsock's 3-pointer with another bucket.
With 4:20 left, Chalmers made a 3-pointer for a 76-58 lead, then connected again from beyond the arc.
Self called the foul shooting "brutal."
"I think we just had an off night from the free-throw line," Chalmers said. "We've got to go in and practice."