DES MOINES, IA. (KSNT) – KU men’s basketball continues it’s quest to back-to-back national championships.

Kansas beat Howard, 96 to 68 Thursday.

KU coaches stressed how important defense would be against a Howard team that can score from anywhere. The two teams took turns scoring for most of the first half and trading the lead.

The Jayhawks had a six-point lead with 11:39 remaining in the first half, but Howard went on a 7-0 run to take a one-point lead.

Again, Howard tied the game at 33 with 5:27 left. KU went on a 9-1 run to retake the lead, and continued to build it to a 13-point halftime lead. Gradey Dick had seven points in the run to the half.

Jalen Wilson opened the second half with a 3-pointer, but Howard answered with its own. Bringing the first half’s theme into the second, KU and Howard traded layups and field goals. A 7-0 run in the middle of the half gave KU a 21-point lead, and a cushion it held on to for the rest of the game.

The Jayhawks move on to the round of 32 on Saturday. They will play the winner of Thursday’s Arkansas/Illinois game.