Monday, December 18, 2017

No. 14 Jayhawks blow by Omaha

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) throws a pass during the first half on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) throws a pass during the first half on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Back inside Allen Fieldhouse for the first time since its home loss to Arizona State, the Kansas basketball team posted triple digits for the third time this season, in a 109-64 drubbing of overmatched Omaha.

The Jayhawks imposed their will offensively throughout Monday night, following the lead of seniors Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham. The ball moved crisply most of the game, often finding its way to the softest spots in the Mavericks’ half-court defense, as No. 14 KU dished out 25 assists and made 62 percent of its shots.

Mykhailiuk tied his career-high with six 3-pointers and finished one point shy of his personal-best 27 points, scoring 26 on 10-for-13 shooting, with four assists.

Graham led the way with eight assists and buried five of his seven shots — all coming from behind the 3-point arc — for a 17-point night.

Sophomore big man Udoka Azubuike (11 points, 12 rebounds) came through with his third double-double of the season.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: The Omaha athletics department staff put together the team’s non-conference schedule.

The Mavericks’ matchup with KU at Allen Fieldhouse marked the program’s eighth true road game of the past five weeks — and fifth on the home floor of a Power Five program.

This trip turned out the same way all those others did for Omaha (3-11). Kansas (9-2) had a double-digit cushion less than seven minutes in, when Malik Newman (14 points) drained the Jayhawks’ third 3-pointer in a row.

Although the Mavericks proved for a stretch they could trade baskets with KU, the home team built a 15-point lead by the 6:37 mark of the first half, when Newman knocked down a pull-up jumper in transition.

The lead grew as large as 26 points just before halftime, as Kansas overwhelmed Omaha with its ball movement and shooting.

KU assisted on 14 of its 20 made field goals, while shooting 59 percent in the first 20 minutes, with Graham (5 assists in 16 minutes) and Newman (4 assists in 14 minutes) most often setting up their teammates.

The Mavericks’ chances were further buried thanks to KU’s 3-point accuracy. The Jayhawks nailed 10 of their 14 long-distance attempts (71 percent) in the first half. Graham shot 4-for-5, while fellow senior Mykhailiuk didn’t miss (3-for-3).

• Offensive highlight: Surprisingly, KU’s first-half show, which led to a 55-29 lead at intermission, included just three dunks.

While sophomore transfer Sam Cunliffe (nine points) was the first Jayhawk to throw one down, catching an alley-oop from Graham for his first basket in a Kansas uniform, it didn’t match the ferocity of a fast-break connection between Graham and Lagerald Vick (15 points) still to come.

After Graham ended an Omaha possession with a steal he pushed it ahead for a two-on-one attack with Vick.

Graham, dribbling on the left half of the floor, tossed a lob up nonchalantly toward the rim, where a leaping Vick caught it above his head and slammed the dunk down with two hands.

Cunliffe, though, got a chance to rise even higher and finish even stronger late in the second half of the rout, on another fast break. Again, Graham set him up with the alley-oop, which Cunliffe hammered home, making it 99-54.

• Defensive highlight: While Mitch Lightfoot didn’t actually get credit for a blocked shot due to a foul on Cunliffe just before Lightfoot went up to protect the rim, the most impressive play on the defensive end of the floor happened milliseconds after the ball officially became dead.

Omaha guard Daniel Norl went spinning into the paint for a layup attempt and Lightfoot not only met the shot at the apex of his opponent’s leap, he cupped the one-handed denial and secured it in his right arm in one motion.

Cunliffe fouled Norl with a reach-in just before Lightfoot’s potentially embarrassing denial.

• Key stat: Rebounding. As well as KU played offensively, the game got out of hand because the Jayhawks dominated the glass.

Kansas out-boarded Omaha, 49-26, and only allowed the Mavericks to score eight second-chance points on their 10 offensive rebounds.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will head out west to take on Stanford (6-6) and former KU guard Jerod Haase, the Cardinal’s head coach, Thursday night in Sacramento, Calif. (10 p.m. tip-off, ESPN2).

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Omaha

By the Numbers: Kansas 109, Omaha 64.

By the Numbers: Kansas 109, Omaha 64.


Bryce Landon 2 years, 10 months ago

This game is a nice confidence booster, no question. But the Stanford game will be the real gauge of whether or not we are truly ready for Big 12 play.

Oh, and memo to ESPN, stop saying we lost 2 in a row at home. The UW loss was in KC.

Larry Ralston 2 years, 10 months ago

Bryce, They say that because the brainiacs in the athletic department sell the games at the sprint center as part of the season ticket package, thus considering it a "home" game. You are correct that it was only 1 at the field house, but technically it was 2 at "home".

Allan Olson 2 years, 10 months ago

Check in more detail on Stanford. On paper we should keep them with a losing record.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 10 months ago

good to see Sam get plenty of minutes tonight. Svi and Newman also had legit games. Garret still throws up bricks, but hustles and plays some D.

Cory McCart 2 years, 10 months ago

i agree, but newman's long-range game still has to be a concern.

Kent Richardson 2 years, 10 months ago

Cunliffe was alert and engaged on both ends of the floor. We are so small that he looks like he is 6'8" tall. Mostly knew where to be and what to do when he got there.

Newman has to be the most streaky shooter ever. When he was running the point and was moving without the ball he was great. His game may be the mid range stop and pop. Even his 5 footers are shot from his angle style.

Omaha got to the rim at will until about seven minutes to go into the first half. Took only two bad shots, and hit one of them, at that. They were stuck on 29 forever it seemed like.

Udoka didn't get as many lucky bounces as last game. He is extremely slow to react on balls that carom down from the hoop.

Svi and DeVonte were hot and creative on assists. They both, and especially Svi, get a little too creative sometimes trying to be cute.

Vick seems to live on his own planet, Vegerald, and then like a comet he zips into view and scores.

Nice win for the guys and Teahan nailed one.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 10 months ago

So did James Sokenski. He might be better at the sport he walked onto than he is at the sport he's on scholarship to play.

Gerry Butler 2 years, 10 months ago

umm, he isn't on a scholarship in either sport but thanks for the thought. - -He is a walk on in football too , so there is that.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 10 months ago

My bad. I gave up on KU football after getting blown out by winless Baylor.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 10 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] I must have been dreaming but I swear I saw Newman actually pass the ball once.

2] Maybe Svi needs to think aggressive D first because that carries into his offensive game and it's a plus.

3] Svi has been at KU for 4 years and i don't think he's reached legal age yet!

4] Well, at least we know Billy is still in Lawrence after spotting him on the bench. C'mon, resolve this situation one way or the other and move on. This is taking longer than an elephant's gestation period!!

5] Nice seeing Conliffe may actually be able to positively impact the rotation in at least a small measure.

6] In the long run, the person to most benefit by this lack of depth issue is Lightfoot. He is getting major playing time whether he is ready or not.

7] It's shocking to see the improvement in Vick from his frosh year to now. All he needs is some more muscle on that frame.

8] I'm not calling it a nice win since it was virtually a practice game but it was a great practice game!!!

Kent Richardson 2 years, 10 months ago

Ha on 1 and 4.

Technically it was not Cunliffe's first game but it, in effect, was. I hope it is not a Diallo repeat and be his best game too.

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