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Thursday, December 27, 2018

KU center Udoka Azubuike’s status still in doubt for Saturday vs. Eastern Michigan

Injured center Udoka Azubuike  watches from the bench during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center.

Injured center Udoka Azubuike watches from the bench during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center.

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If injured junior Udoka Azubuike returns to action on Saturday, when the fifth-ranked Kansas basketball team hosts Eastern Michigan to close out the calendar year, he won’t be playing at 100 percent.

KU coach Bill Self said on Thursday — during a break in the holiday kids clinic that attracted more than 500 young hoopers — that Azubuike was still recovering from the right ankle sprain that cost him most of the Wofford game and the four games that followed during the past few weeks.

Azubuike, who has slowly been making progress and had hoped to return before the Jayhawks open Big 12 play on Tuesday, practiced Wednesday night and again on Thursday morning, but was not able to go full speed.

“He’s out there (practicing), but he’s probably 60 or 70 percent still,” Self said. “I don’t think he trusts it; I don’t think he’s quite ready to play in a game yet. Hopefully, he can play Saturday, but, if he does, I don’t think he’ll be 100 percent.”

With Azubuike out, the Jayhawks have started sophomore guard Marcus Garrett at the 4 and junior forward Dedric Lawson at the 5, electing to play small instead of trying to plug junior forward Mitch Lightfoot or freshman big man David McCormack into the starting lineup.

Both Lightfoot and McCormack have seen their minutes increase in Azubuike’s absence, but Self said he was eager to get Azubuike back so the Jayhawks (10-1) can have a better idea of what kind of team they’ll take into Big 12 play, where they will be gunning for an NCAA record 15th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title.

“I’d like for him to get out there just because he needs rhythm,” Self said. “Eastern Michigan can play about as big as anybody we’ve played so far, so it’d be nice to have another body out there and it’d be nice just for him to get some reps going into conference play, even if they are limited.”

Self said the next couple of days would determine Azubuike’s availability for Saturday and the goal, in a big-picture sense, is to crawl closer to that 100 percent mark by the end of next week.

“He was better this morning,” said Self, noting that Azubuike was able to practice both days since the Jayhawks returned from winter break. “Hopefully, in the next week or so, that’ll be the case.”

Counting the Wofford game, when Azubuike played just four minutes before injuring the ankle, the Jayahwks are 4-1 without Azubuike, who started all seven games he played in before the injury and is averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game.

Comments

Jesse Johnson 2 years, 2 months ago

I mean, do we really need him for this game though? I would say let him rest this game even if he is capable of playing just to make sure he's good to go for start of conference.

[''] 2 years, 2 months ago

Really Barry? If he's not 100% I say sit him and let Dmack get more experience and minutes. Come back in 2019 at 100%

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 2 months ago

Pretty sure Barry wasn't saying to play Dok if he wasn't fully healed.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 2 months ago

dang, that riled up a few huh? It was a cheer for Dok, I would like to see him get in some minutes this Saturday. Coach did indicate he's playing in practice. But if Coach was wrong and he's still injured, let him rest.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 2 months ago

He's been out for a little over 3 weeks and he's at maybe 70%. At his rate of recovery looks like he'll be out about a week and a half. Best case scenario he plays against Iowa State.

Josh Galler 2 years, 2 months ago

just like last year if he is eligible 4-9 min a game to start at then gradually share min with lightfoot and KJ

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 2 months ago

Imagine Silvio if he had been ruled eligible before the semester even began. You would see a lot more Dedric and Silvio.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 2 months ago

NOPE ON DOK! NOPE ON DOK! NOPE ON DOK!

That ankle will never be 100% during the season, so give it as much time as possible to heal as best that it can.

I say play Silvio, dare the NCAA to punish you then sue their asses. All it will take will be one school to stand up to them and all the big boys from Division One will join in and the NCAA will fall like a House of Cards!!j

Jay Scott 2 years, 2 months ago

I love this idea Tony but in a year when Kansas are a title favorite ZERO schools will stand with them.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 2 months ago

Why risk it? Keep Udoka on the bench. We need him at full strength for conference play, and we can beat Eastern Michigan just as well without him as with him.

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