The Kansas basketball team jumped — and slammed and shot — out of its December Pac-12 funk Thursday night in Sacramento, Calif., where the Jayhawks rolled past Stanford, 75-54, a little less than two weeks removed from back-to-back losses to Washington and Arizona State.
No. 14 KU established its dominance from the get-go, force-feeding big man Udoka Azubuike inside and letting him go to work in the paint. The sophomore center scored the first 10 points for Kansas (10-2) en route to a 24-point, seven-rebound night.
And once the entire Cardinal defense learned how devastating Azubuike could be inside, his teammates began to feast, too, at Golden1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and rookie Frank Mason III, who watched from a courtside seat.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
View a gallery of images from Thursday night's game between the Jayhawks and Cardinal in Sacramento, California.
• The game turned when: Azubuike’s teammates started attacking, and Stanford (6-7) responded by struggling on both ends of the floor for a stretch.
Lagerald Vick (13 points) and Devonte’ Graham (14 points, six assists) were the first Jayhawks to turn up their aggressiveness, as Vick threw down a pair of dunks and Graham knocked down a couple of 3-pointers to open a massive run.
In a span of six-plus minutes, Stanford turned the ball over three times and missed eight shots, as Kansas pushed its lead to 31-15, versus former KU guard Jerod Haase, now in his second season as the Cardinal’s head coach.
• Offensive highlight: While KU’s first-half flurry included plenty of slams — nine to be exact — one from Svi Mykhailiuk (14 points, seven rebounds) actually stood out due to its level of wow factor.
The senior from Ukraine not only looked quicker off the dribble than usual, he also appeared to have extra spring within his legs.
Mykhailiuk drove in from the left elbow, took off from beyond the NBA restricted area semi-circle in the paint and held the ball high with his right hand before finishing with a powerful one-handed jam.
• Defensive highlight: Give this one to KU’s half-court efforts as a unit.
The Jayhawks often looked in sync in terms of focus and energy exerted on the defensive end of the floor.
Their collective work meant Stanford missed 14 of their first 20 field-goal attempts, not only in the first half, but also in the second.
The Cardinal turned the ball over 14 times on the night, and KU held its opponent to 12-for-31 shooting before intermission (38.7 percent) and 21-for-61 (34.4 percent) in the victory.
• Key stat: Points in the paint. Azubuike opened the floodgates for the Jayhawks inside.
The sophomore center’s dunks, layups and jump-hooks around the rim established the tone for KU, which finished the neutral-court win by dominating the Cardinal, 48-20, in the paint.
• Up next: The Jayhawks commence Big 12 play before the calendar flips to 2018, when they take on the Longhorns at Texas, on Dec. 29.