Notebook: After falling to No. 2, KU handles Vermont in home opener

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) flexes after a dunk before Vermont forward Anthony Lamb (3) during the first half, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) flexes after a dunk before Vermont forward Anthony Lamb (3) during the first half, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A five-point win over the No. 10 team in the country on one of the nation’s biggest college basketball stages was not enough for the Kansas men’s basketball team to hold on to its No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25.

But don’t blame the Jayhawks.

Kansas, which topped Vermont, 84-68, on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse, was jumped by a Duke team that thrashed then-No. 2 Kentucky at the same event last week in Indianapolis.

Behind the strength of that victory over Kentucky, the Blue Devils (2-0) climbed three spots from No. 4 to No. 1 and Kansas (2-0) fell a spot to No. 2 in this week’s AP poll, released Monday.

Duke received 48 first-place votes and 14 voters still had KU at the top of their ballots. Virginia (2) and Tennessee (1) also received first-place votes.

“I voted KU No. 1,” ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale tweeted on Monday evening. “To me, when you are sitting in the No. 1 slot, you must get beat to lose your standing.”

The move to the top pushed Duke past UCLA into first place all-time for most No. 1 rankings and marked the second time that Kansas has fallen from the No. 1 spot without losing.

The Jayhawks also fell from the No. 1 preseason ranking back in 2004, when KU narrowly beat Vermont — of all teams — in its regular-season opener that year and fell to No. 3 the following week.

Fieldhouse openers

Kansas now has won 46 consecutive home openers at Allen Fieldhouse, dating back to the 1973-74 season.

The Jayhawks’ last setback in their first home game of a season came on Dec. 2, 1972, when Vanderbilt walked into Lawrence and left a 72-64 winner.

That game is the only loss in a KU home opener since Allen Fieldhouse opened its doors, and the Jayhawks are now 63-1 all-time in home openers at Allen Fieldhouse.

Big 12 honors

Two Jayhawks swept the first Big 12 awards of the 2018-19 season, with junior forward Dedric Lawson being named Big 12 player of the week and freshman guard Quentin Grimes earning Big 12 newcomer of the week honors.

Lawson (20 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists) and Grimes (21 points on 6-of-10 3-point shooting) teamed up to help Kansas defeat Michigan State last week at the Champions Classic in the season opener in Indianapolis.

Lawson became just the fifth Jayhawk since the 1988-89 season to record a double-double in his Kansas debut, joining teammate Marcus Garrett, who kicked off his career with 10 points and 10 rebounds in last season’s opener against Tennessee State.

Kansas, with 120, has won more Big 12 weekly honors than any other school in the 22-year history of the conference. Lawson becomes KU’s 72nd conference player of the week and Grimes is KU’s 48th newcomer/rookie of the week.

Iowa State and Texas are tied for second with 95 all-time honorees.

Making it official

Isaac “Mackey” McBride plans to waste no time making his commitment to the Kansas men’s basketball program official.

McBride, a 6-foot, 180-pound combo guard from Little Rock, Ark., who orally committed to KU last month, tweeted last week his plans to sign his letter of intent at noon on Wednesday in the Baptist Prep High School gymnasium.

Wednesday marks the first day of the early signing period, which runs through Nov. 21, and the No. 109-ranked player in the 2019 class, according to Rivals.com, will not even need more than 12 hours to put pen to paper, officially making him a Jayhawk.

Blue Valley Northwest senior Christian Braun, who also committed to KU last month, told the Journal-World on Monday night that he, too, plans to sign Wednesday.

Braun is the No. 112-ranked player in the 2019 class per Rivals and the two guards are KU’s lone commitments to date.

This and that ...

The Jayhawks are now 2-0 all-time against Vermont and 2-0 overall for the second year in a row and ninth time in Bill Self’s 16 seasons at KU. ... Monday’s game was the on-campus clash in this year’s NIT Season Tip Off and KU is now 18-3 all-time in that event. ... Kansas is 773-113 all-time in games played at Allen Fieldhouse, including 235-13 under Self, who improved to 656-201 overall, 449-96 while at Kansas. ... KU’s all-time record in men’s basketball now stands at 2,250-849, and the Jayhawks sit just 14 games behind Kentucky (2,264) for the most in history.

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