LAWRENCE — On a new-look Kansas basketball team chock-full of first-time faces, a new look from a returning Jayhawk could provide as big a boost as any this season.

If nothing else, Marcus Garrett at least showcased Thursday night that he’s brought the tools that have made him one of Bill Self’s favorite players back to the dance for his junior campaign.

Garrett, who filled in for hobbled sophomore point guard Devon Dotson in the Jayhawks’ starting lineup, finished with 15 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, no turnovers and, notably, four made 3s in the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks' 86-56 victory over Fort Hays State in an exhibition opener at Allen Fieldhouse. Ochai Agbaji led the way for KU offensively, scoring 21 points with three made 3s.

“Marcus,” Self later said, “was terrific.”

Garrett kept the Jayhawks afloat amid a listless start.

The Dallas native, a career 25.5-percent shooter from deep, hit three of his first four 3-point attempts against the Tigers. Over that same stretch, Garrett’s teammates connected on just 2 of 9 tries from beyond the arc, keeping the visitors within striking distance — 28-21 — late in the first half.

The Jayhawks last year hit just 35 percent of their 3-point tries, ranked 138th nationally. Two of the biggest contributors from deep, Lagerald Vick (45.5-percent clip from 3-point range in 2018-19) and Dedric Lawson (39.3), are no longer on the team, and senior guard Isaiah Moss, an Iowa transfer and career 39.1-percent 3-point shooter, is dealing with an injury and didn’t appear in the exhibition opener.

After the game, Garrett said he feels like he “crossed a hurdle” offensively after reworking his shot this offseason. Self-confidence, more than even the technical tweak here or there, will be the biggest key moving forward, he claimed.

“Biggest thing Coach has told me is I can shoot as many (3s) as I want after practice, during practice, but if I never take them in a game then you never know if they’re going to go in or not,” Garrett said. “... I think the biggest thing for me was when I would miss one shot I would get down on myself, and thinking that was a terrible thing that I started out 0-for-1. And now I just know that I can make the shot and I’ve just got to keep taking them, even if I do miss the first one.”

Agbaji, a sophomore guard out of Kansas City, Mo., helped build the first double-figure lead of the evening for the Jayhawks, notching a pair of steals-into-fastbreak-dunks and six total points in an 8-0 stretch that made the KU advantage 36-21. Garrett and Agbaji's nine and eight points, respectively, paced the Jayhawks at halftime, where their lead stood at 36-25.

Fort Hays State hit three unanswered 3s out of the intermission to cut the deficit to just two points, 36-34, but it was Garrett again proving to be a calming presence — the 6-foot-5, 195-pounder ended the visiting team’s run with a tricky driving layup, the first points of a 17-2 run that re-established breathing room for the Jayhawks. Garrett had three points and a pair of steals in that rally, while Agbaji drained two 3s.

When the Tigers cut the Jayhawks’ lead to two, Garrett spoke up during the subsequent timeout. The message? Similar to one Dotson delivered to the second-string point guard earlier in the day.

“‘Push the ball.’ That was his his biggest key,” Garrett recalled. “He just kept saying, ‘Push the ball. Keep the tempo up.’ ”

Fort Hays State's Alvin Thompson hit a layup to end the Jayhawk run — KU had scored 12 unanswered points in addition to the 17-2 overall mark. But the response was again authored by Garrett, who this time delivered a well-placed lob pass to a dunking Mitch Lightfoot to make the lead 55-38 with 11:45 left, more than a comfortable spread against the overmatched Division II-level Tigers.

Garrett’s fourth and final 3-pointer ballooned the margin to 67-45 with 7:19 left, essentially icing the outcome.

Self said there’s “no question” Garrett enters the 2019-20 season with an improved stroke.

“He has worked on it awfully hard,” Self said. “It does look a little different from a technique standpoint than it did last year. If he can be a threat to shoot above 30 (percent) from 3, which I think he can, that’ll change how people have to guard us, for sure. But as you guys know, if you don’t shoot it good and you’ve got two bigs in the game that don’t stretch it, the court’s pretty crowded. So we’ve got to have some guys around those guys that are all threats at all times.”

Hampered by a severe high ankle sprain, Garrett struggled down the stretch of his sophomore season, revealing recently that he only felt fully recovered from the ailment in July. A defensive specialist, Garrett finished his sophomore year averaging 7.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals across 27.9 minutes per game.

Junior forward Silvio De Sousa had nine points and six rebounds Thursday in his first action since the 2017-18 season — he was withheld voluntarily then ruled ineligible last season but won an appeal this offseason. Starting center Udoka Azubuike struggled offensively, held scoreless until converting a dunk with 5:57 left to play. The 7-foot senior finished with 5 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 17 minutes.

KU finished 11-for-33 from 3-point range, a 33.3-percent clip. The Jayhawks also struggled from the free-throw line, going 9 for 19 for a 47.4-percent mark, but used 20 offensive rebounds to secure a 28-3 advantage in second-chance points.

Fort Hays State was paced by 11 points from forward Jared Vitztum, the only double-figure scorer for the visiting squad.

KU returns to action at 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at home against Pittsburg State in a second and final exhibition contest ahead of a 6 p.m. Nov. 5 season opener against No. 4 Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York.