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Kansas defeats Oklahoma State, 83-58

  • 8 p.m., Feb. 24, 2020
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Monday, February 24, 2020

Azubuike joins KU’s 1,000-point club, No. 1 Kansas wallops Oklahoma State for 83-58 win

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) powers through a triple team to the bucket during the second half against Oklahoma State on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) powers through a triple team to the bucket during the second half against Oklahoma State on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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With his older brother, Chima Azuonwu, in the crowd, watching him play basketball for the first time in 10 years, Kansas senior Udoka Azubuike joined KU’s 1,000-point club during a 83-58 victory over Oklahoma State on ESPN’s Big Monday.

"You know, he got 500 of them on dunks or more," Kansas coach Bill Self said of his big man's career milestone. "So, yeah it's great. I'm happy for him. Of course, there've been a lot of guys who have scored 1,000 points, but there's been nobody score 1,000 points in their career from closer to the basket."

Azubuike, who played a college game in front of his mother for the first time at the 2018 Final Four, finished Monday’s victory with 19 points and 16 rebounds (eight offensive) in 24 minutes for his 13th double-double of the season.

Kansas, which hit double-digit 3-pointers against Oklahoma State for the second time this season (11 of 33 in Game 1 and 10 of 28 on Monday night) now has won 18 Big Monday games in a row and 36 consecutive Big Monday games inside Allen Fieldhouse.

As has been the case in so many games this season, Azubuike played a big role in extending those streaks. How he did it was a little less common.

Taken directly from a page of the “He Did What? Almanac,” Azubuike’s 999th and 1,000th points came on a pair of free throws midway through the first half, as the reigning Big 12 and national player of the week found room to roam tough to come by during the first half of Monday’s victory.

"It was actually surprising," Azubuike said after the win. "I didn't think my 1,000th point was going to come on a free throw."

After attempting his first shot at the 10:31 mark of the first half — a missed one-handed dunk attempt on a lob from Ochai Agbaji — Azubuike gathered the rebound and was fouled on his way back up.

He banked the first one hard off the glass and in to get to 999 points for his career. And he swished the second one to reach quadruple digits for his career.

A couple of possessions later, Azubuike was fouled again, as the Cowboys swarmed him with two and oftentimes three defenders every time he caught the ball, refusing to let Azubuike do to them what he did to Baylor two days earlier.

A career 41% free throw shooter entering Monday night, Azubuike drained his next two free throws to start Monday’s game 4 of 4 at the free-throw line. He finished the game 7 of 8 from the free-throw line and upped his season average by nearly five percentage points, from 42.3% to 46.6%.

“You don’t see that very often," Self said. "He goes 7-of-8 from the line and one of them’s a bank and another one’s way off. But they were soft. He looked good from the line.”

In time, Monday’s game evolved into one that Azubuike fans are more accustomed to seeing. He finished with three dunks on the night and was a brutalizing force around the rim throughout the second half, blocking one shot and recording 11 of his 19 points.

Asked after the game, through a few uncharacteristic smiles and laughs with the media, if he was having more fun than ever during hte past couple of weeks, Azubuike smiled again.

"Of course. You've got to have fun," Azubuike said. "This is my last year, my last season. Regardless of what's going on, you've got to embrace it and just cherish the moment. It's basketball. You just have to have fun regardless."

Azubuike took a hard fall midway through Monday’s second half and came up wincing. He was thrown down again on a foul on the very next possession, after which he stayed down for a second and then hit 1 of 2 free throws before heading to the bench.

As the KU big man made his way down the bench to slap hands with his teammates and coaches, the Allen Fieldhouse crowd rose to its feet and roared with approval after another solid showing.

Free throws played a big part of Monday’s victory for the Jayhawks. KU (25-3 overall, 14-1 Big 12) hit 8 of 9 in the first half to take a 35-25 lead into halftime. And Kansas finished the night 17 of 20 from the free-throw line.

After playing just seven players total in the win at Baylor over the weekend, Self played eight in Monday’s first half, with seven of them scoring in the opening 20 minutes.

With KU’s starting five likely still feeling some exhaustion from the high-intensity win over Baylor on Saturday, Christian Braun, Tristan Enaruna and David McCormack all played at least 15 minutes on Monday, a theme that started in the first half.

"It was nice that we were able to cut down the minutes on everybody tonight," Self said. "Because the guys are tired."

Added Agbaji after the victory: "It was kind of rough at first, you know, starting to get it going and all that, but our coaches did a good job of getting us pumped up for the game, getting us ready and you know we just had to come in this game with a lot more focus because we've just got finish out the rest of the conference season."

Azubuike’s first field goal of the first half came at the 7:57 mark, when he powered his way to the rim to finish a tough post move. That put KU up 21-14.

Later in the first half, after a quick turn over his right shoulder toward the baseline, he gave his brother the show he came to see, hammering a two-handed dunk over a retreating Oklahoma State defender to put the Jayhawks up 33-25.

The power play drew a subdued and friendly clap from Azubuike’s brother in the stands. Later, after a one-handed hammer dunk early in the second half, Azuonwu got a little more excited about his brother’s signature move, clapping harder and nearly standing after the flush that put the Jayhawks up 37-28 with 18:22 to play.

Four minutes later, after back 3-pointers from Agbaji and Isaiah Moss (9 points on 3 of 6 shooting from 3-point range) and a steady onslaught of transition opportunities for the Jayhawks, Kansas led 51-30 and had all but put the Cowboys away.

Six minutes after that, the game was officially out of hand, with KU leading 69-38 and the Kansas defense making life miserable for OSU, with active hands and intense pressure that led to easy transition points.

KU outscored OSU (14-14, 4-11) 11-8 in fast-break points and 28-24 in the paint on Monday night.

The victory guaranteed KU of being a top-two seed at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., March 11-14.

Like last week, the Jayhawks will have a couple of days to rest before returning to the court. KU’s next game is slated for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Kansas State.

Comments

Bryce Landon 8 months ago

I was afraid that Kansas might have an emotional letdown after the Baylor game and suffer a stunning loss to Oklahoma State. Early on, I thought that might well be the case as KU was jacking up three-pointers and had no makes from two-point range. But it was nice to see KU make the Cowboys look like the Cowgirls in the second half. As Fran Fraschilla pointed out on the ESPN broadcast, we sent a message to Baylor by beating OSU that they have to handle their business because we're going to handle ours from here on out.

Side note, I hate Oklahoma State, but I love their uniforms. They look like the kind that they wore under Eddie Sutton in the 1990s, back when OSU's program was actually classy and dignified. By contrast, I dislike the ugly gray uniforms we wore tonight. I'd rather see Kansas in crimson red, which is actually a school color, instead of gray, which, last I checked, was NOT a school color.

Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

I really do like Crimson as a school color. I like Crimson in the crowd. I like Crimson as a trim color on KU's uniforms in both football and basketball. I don't think that it looks great as the primary color for KU's uniforms. Red uniforms are fine for most schools with Crimson as a school color, but for some reason I don't like Crimson jerseys with blue for trim. I don't feel like they look serious enough. The contrast of blue trim on red fabric doesn't work for me visually. It's almost feel cartoonish or gimmicky to me.

I do like the grey uniforms that KU has sported in recent years. I think that they are a decent alternative to the home whites and provide good contrast for blue and red trim.

That said I really like seeing KU's home crowd fans all decked out in blues and reds. The sea of blue is good, but the reds are what makes us different from Duke and Kentucky.

clint moran 8 months ago

I thought the unis were pretty slick looking last night, personally.

Steve Zimmerman 8 months ago

Dunk you very much, Big Dok! Congrats! You're ready for the next level Keep it up!

Dale Stringer 8 months ago

Never thought that Big Dok would be the smaller brother.

Dirk Medema 8 months ago

When we started 3 for 3 and 4 of 5 to start the game, I had a feeling it was going to be a good night. Even if OSU was close to start. Especially with Ochai involved and Moss too.

Spurtability is one of those color commentator terms used for offense. Is it ever used for D? This team seems to have it. They just lock down. Get a few steals. A block here or there and the opponent is toast.

Edward Daub 8 months ago

Clark Kellogg invented the word "Spurtability". Do other Color Guys use that word? I do not know.

Layne Pierce 8 months ago

Gotta say This team has improved a lot defensively Thank God We are not a great shooting team Amazing what coaching and real effort can produce Rcjh

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