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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Better energy, activity led to big night for KU guard Malik Newman

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) directs his teammates on defense as he guards Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton (5) during the first half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. At right is Kansas guard Malik Newman (14).

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) directs his teammates on defense as he guards Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton (5) during the first half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. At right is Kansas guard Malik Newman (14).

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Kansas senior Devonte' Graham needed just three words to describe the improved effort and extra energy that sophomore guard Malik Newman played with during the Jayhawks' 83-77 road victory at Iowa State on Tuesday night.

“It's a bonus,” said Graham, complimenting his running mate, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting but did some of his best work away from the ball. “Anybody playing like that, we need everybody to be aggressive.”

Newman's big offensive night, which showed up big time during the game's final few minutes when he scored both in close and from distance, appeared to be the product of the 6-foot-3 shooting guard plugging himself into other elements of the game at other parts of the floor better than he had during the past couple of weeks.

He finished with six rebounds — moving him into second place on the team behind Udoka Azubuike, with 133 on the season — added four assists and swiped one steal. Perhaps his biggest impact came while harassing ISU freshman Lindell Wigginton into a 3-of-12 shooting night and holding him 15 points below the 27-point explosion the talented guard dropped on Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse a month ago.

Notorious for being closer to the bottom of the chart that tracks KU's hustle points — deflections, steals, dunks, floor burns, etc. — Newman, who was back in the starting lineup after a one-game hiatus, no doubt finished Tuesday night closer to the top.

Asked about his performance beyond his point total, Newman said he felt he played “much better” in other those other areas and added, “And I think my energy brought energy to the other players on the floor so that's always a good thing.”

It's possible it was purely coincidental, but junior guard Lagerald Vick seemed determined to match Newman hustle point for hustle point in the Jayhawks' latest victory.

With just five games to play in the Big 12 race and Kansas sitting a game behind Texas Tech for first place in the standings, Newman said that closing in on the end of the season may have added a little urgency to Tuesday's effort.

“In a way,” he began. “We know that it's getting crunch time and we know that we need all our players to come out, be aggressive and play. And that's what we did tonight.”

Asked if the added intensity was a particular focus of his for Tuesday night, Newman pointed to a changing mindset.

“It's kind of a focus every night,” he said. “But tonight we just knew we had to do it. It's something that we've really been emphasizing and stressing in practice and we just wanted to come out and have the same intensity we've been having in practice.”

Graham, who suffered through a 3-of-16 shooting night but still had his finger prints all over the game — 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers in 40 minutes — gave Newman high marks for his aggressiveness on Tuesday.

“He's trying to get his nose dirty and get into the paint, just to make plays for others and himself,” Graham said of Newman. “He's doing a good job of straight-line driving to the basket and getting and-ones and stuff.”

If that continues and remains the product of Newman and others — particularly Azubuike and Lagerald Vick — turning up their game all over the court instead of just with the ball in their hands, KU coach Bill Self's desire to keep his best players on the floor as much as possible down the stretch becomes much easier.

“Tinkering's probably not the right word,” Self said this week, when asked about the challenges of figuring out the right lineups. “I don't think we've tinkered at all. It's more of a situation where we've made some decisions to do some things based on effort in practice or whatnot.

“I know what's best for our team. What's best for our team is to have our five best players out there playing the vast majority of the minutes. That's what's best for our team. But it just hasn't played out that way in league play consistently. Hopefully we'll get it together.”

Tuesday's victory certainly looked like a step in that direction for KU's primary five. The question now is whether that effort will go down as the exception or the rule.






By the Numbers: Kansas 83, Iowa State 77

By the Numbers: Kansas 83, Iowa State 77

Comments

Len Shaffer 1 week, 2 days ago

There were a lot of good things in this game, but one thing that was concerning was KU's play down the stretch. Aside from missing two front ends of one-and-one (which you can write off to a fluke), the foul with under a minute left and KU up by six was inexcusable. (I think that was Lightfoot, but I'm not sure). You have a team that's down six and a player is going in for a two-pointer with about 40 seconds left; why on earth would you foul him and give him a chance for an and-one??? Of course KU isn't the only team that makes that type of boneheaded play, but I just have a hard time understanding how any player can be that clueless when it comes to time and score.

Another thing that was worrisome was when KU had a nine-point lead with under two minutes to go and was shooting the ball with 15 seconds left on the shot clock -- again, that seems like a total of lack of thought as to time and score. You're giving the other team a MUCH better chance to come back on you when you shoot anything other than a layup that early in the shot clock.

It's too late in the season and KU has been in too many close games to be doing that type of stuff; let's hope it won't continue.

Jerry Walker 1 week, 2 days ago

" improved effort and extra energy"

It's a crying shame when that's the recurring storyline - game after game - for this version of Jayhawk basketball.

I've been a fan since the starting lineup for KU was Walt Wesley, Al Lopes, Delvy Lewis, Riney Lochmann and Ron Franz - and I've been with them through good times and not so good times. But this squad's continuous excuse of not playing hard is pretty hard to swallow.

Call it whatever you want - lack of guts, cowardice, or simply spoiledassrotten to name a few adjectives - they've got a few games left to prove they're worthy of the adoration from Jayhawk Nation. It's not too late to turn this into a great season.

Richard Greenfield 1 week, 2 days ago

Past the obvious lack of hieghth and depth,they lack individuals that have strong type A personalities. No "Dog" in them other than Graham possibly. All the coaching and bitching in the world wont change that.

Harlan Hobbs 1 week, 2 days ago

Wow, what's with the Debbie Downers? I've been a fan since the starting lineup had Clyde Lovellette, the Kelley brothers, et. al., and there are only a couple of programs that can come close to replicating the tradition at KU.

Yes, this team has its challenges, but good grief, they are playing with a short deck, and things aren't working out all that bad. Meanwhile, over at Manhattan, they continue to debate whether Bruce Weber should be fired, and their AD says that there are a lot of programs that would love to be in KSU's situation.

I guess that it is just a matter of perception. Oh well, fortunately what we think as fans isn't really all that important. Win or lose, KU still is part of the "cream of the crop."

Harlan Hobbs 1 week, 2 days ago

Also, love the picture of Svi directly the defense. Doesn't look like a lack of intensity or concentration there!

Tony Bandle 1 week, 2 days ago

Naw, Harlan, Svi was doing his best John Travolta Saturday Night Fever imitation!

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