Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Notebook: Mitch Lightfoot makes first start; a look back at how KU players fared in first starts

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fights for a ball with several TCU players during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fights for a ball with several TCU players during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot started the first game of his Kansas career on Tuesday night and helped the 10th-ranked Jayhawks win a battle over TCU, 71-64, at Allen Fieldhouse.

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward from Gilbert, Ariz., was the only first-time starter on the floor for either team on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse. And he became merely the latest current Jayhawk to perform well in his first career start.

Lightfoot finished with six points, four rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes. Modest numbers, to be sure, but considering he played 16 first-half minutes and brought the kind of effort that KU coach Bill Self was looking for on both ends, it goes down as a success.

Here's a quick look back at how the rest of the 2017-18 Jayhawks with starts under their belt fared the first time they ever heard their name called by the public address announcer during the introduction of starting lineups:

• Senior point guard Devonte Graham – Graham's first-ever KU start came in the opening game of his sophomore season against Northern Colorado. In 24 minutes, the sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., scored 13 points and dished eight assists while shooting just 3 of 11 from the floor. Graham made two of his six 3-point attempts and made five of the six free throws he attempted.

• Senior shooting guard Svi Mykhailiuk – Mykhailiuk's first start as a Jayhawk came during the second game of his freshman season. After watching KU get blasted by Kentucky during the second game of the 2014-15 season, Self tossed the young Ukrainian guard into the starting lineup for Game 3 against Rider and Svi shot 4 of 7 from the floor (2 of 5 from 3-point range) and tallied 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and four fouls in 23 minutes.

• Junior guard Lagerald Vick – Although Vick was not in the starting lineup on Tuesday night, he has started plenty during his time at KU. His first start came during his sophomore season, when he took the place of Carlton Bragg Jr., during KU's 95-57 win over UNC Asheville in November of 2016. In 30 minutes, Vick had 15 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-7 shooting to help pace Kansas to the easy win.

• Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike – Vick and Azubuike made their starting-lineup debuts in the same game, with Azubuike taking the place of struggling senior Landen Lucas. Like Vick, Azubuike delivered in a big way, scoring 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes. Azubuike started the next five games before his freshman season came to an abrupt end after a wrist injury.

• Sophomore guard Malik Newman – Penciled in as a sure-fire starter throughout his transfer season, Newman actually began the 2017-18 season on the bench and did not start until Game 2 against Kentucky. Newman played 33 minutes in the Champions' Classic win over the Wildcats and scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Although he shot just 4 of 14 from the floor, he hit arguably the game's biggest shot that gave KU a late cushion and helped seal the victory.

• Freshman Marcus Garrett – No one saw Garrett as a starter when the season began, yet there he was in the season-opener against Tennessee State, starting in place of Newman. Garrett played 29 minutes in that one and finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, showing off many of those intangible hustle plays that have earned him minutes all season.

With Lightfoot now on the list, that's seven current Jayhawks who have started at one point or another during their Kansas careers. The combined record in the seven starting lineup debuts? 7-0.

Graham honored

Graham this week was named to a couple of late-season watch lists for his play so far.

He cracked the Bob Cousy Award's list of 10 finalists for national point guard of the year honors and also was named to the John R. Wooden Award's Late Season 20 list, which features the top players in college basketball in the running for the national player of the year award.

Jayhawks still in Top 10

After a 1-1 week in which they won at Kansas State and lost at home to Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks fell three spots in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, dropping from No. 7 to No. 10.

KU entered the week in the same spot in the USA Today coaches poll after falling from seventh to 10th in the other major national poll, as well.

This and that ...

Tuesday's victory improved the Jayhawks to 19-5 or better for the fourth consecutive season and made the Jayhawks 8-3 or better in their first 11 Big 12 games for the 21st time in the 22-year history of the conference. ... The Jayhawks now lead the all-time series with TCU, 16-2, including a 7-0 mark in games played in Lawrence. ... Kansas is now 11-3 in Allen Fieldhouse this season and KU coach Bill Self is now 20-5 all-time against the Horned Frogs, 13-2 while at Kansas.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, TCU 64.

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, TCU 64.


Bryce Landon 3 years, 2 months ago

Mitch Lightfoot made the most of getting the starting nod tonight. I hope he starts again because he is still more productive than Lagerald Vick, who seemed very much unaffected by losing his starting job.

Sharon Simons Hettinger 3 years, 2 months ago

Did Udoka injure his hand at the end of the game? It appeared as though he was checking several fingers (along w/a coach)...

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 2 months ago

I can't wait to watch McCormack dominating next season. He'll pick up where Dok will have left out. David looks much leaner now. I notice he's more comfortable shooting from 5-10ft now.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 2 months ago

That may be hard to do since Dok will most likely be back next year...

It would be nice if Dok gets in foul trouble to be able to bring in McCormack to replace him though.

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