Kansas sophomore center Udoka Azubuike came through on both ends of the floor for the Jayhawks in a 77-69 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
After providing 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting and blocking three WVU shots (two in the final three minutes), Azubuike explained how he approached what his coach Bill Self labeled a “big-boy game” for the sophomore 7-footer.
“You’ve got to match their intensity,” Azubuike said of the Mountaineers. “If not, they’re gonna blow you out. We came prepared. We came ready defensively, offensively, and thankfully was able to get a win.”
As for the rim protection?
“I just had to do whatever to make my team win,” Azubuike said. “It’s a big game, playing against West Virginia.”
Former Kansas basketball star Cole Aldrich will see his No. 45 jersey go up in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters on Saturday.
A two-time All-Big 12 first-teamer and twice named the league’s top defender, Aldrich was named Academic All-American of the year in 2010.
Here's a look back at the impact Aldrich made for the Jayhawks during his three-year career.
AMES, IOWA — After Kansas won, 83-77, at Iowa State, senior point guard Devonte’ Graham credited the Jayhawks for getting back on track, with the help of guards Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick.
“It was a good bounce-back win. It’s not easy to win here,” Graham said before leaving Hilton Coliseum. “And we had guys step up and make huge plays, and just contributing and doing the little things to help us win.”
The Jayhawks had all five starters in double figures versus the Cyclones, as they scored more than 80 points for the first time since Jan. 9 (also against ISU).
“Coach was on us at practice about guys passing up open shots and stuff like that,” Graham said. “So he just wanted everybody to be aggressive looking for their shot, and I felt like that’s what we did.”
Kansas sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot discusses his first career start following the Jayhawks’ 71-64 home victory over TCU.
Lightfoot replaced Lagerald Vick in the starting lineup and provided KU with six points, four rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 22 minutes.
“It feels really good, but I’m glad we got a ‘dub,’” Lightfoot said. “If we didn’t get a win (starting) wasn’t going to be for anything. We went out there and we fought and we grinded that win out and that was good for us. We needed to get a grind-out win.”
The new starter said KU’s players had some meaningful discussions following Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse.
“We’ve had a couple special talks — had that banquet the other day (120 years of KU basketball celebration) and it kind of motivated us to be better because of who came before us and what this place means to so many people,” Lightfoot said.
Speaking with the media for the first time since Oklahoma repeatedly sent him to the foul line more than a week ago, Kansas sophomore Udoka Azubuike said he has changed “everything” about his free throws since missing six in crunch time at OU.
Azubuike led the Jayhawks in scoring (20 points) in Saturday’s 84-79 home loss to Oklahoma State. The 7-foot center shot 4-for-7 at the free-throw line, making it his first game over 50 percent since Jan. 13.
“I’ve just got to keep working on it, getting better. I’m working on it every day,” Azubuike said. “I shoot a lot of free throws. I feel like I’m getting better. I’m taking a step.”
Working with KU coach Bill Self following his 1-for-8 showing at Oklahoma, Azubuike has since adjusted how he attempts the uncontested 15-footers.
“I had to change everything about my form — my legs, my elbow, all that stuff I had to change,” Azubuike said.
Has he gotten to a point where his new form feels comfortable?
“Right now, not 100 percent,” Azubuike admitted. “It’s a little bit weird. But that’s why I keep practicing and getting better.”
Following his team’s 84-79 home loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas senior point guard Devonte’ Graham said the defeat felt even worse because it came on the day dozens of former players returned to celebrate the program’s 120-year history.
“You want to win and play for them guys, because they built this,” Graham said. “Everything we’ve got, we’re living is because of them. So you wanted to get the ‘W’ for them.”
Kansas sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot says the Jayhawks took another positive step forward with their 70-56 Big Monday win at Kansas State.
Although the Wildcats cut KU’s lead to 5 earlyin the second half, Kansas withstood the rally and recovered to win comfortably on the road.
Kansas sophomore guard Malik Newman discusses a rare victory for the Jayhawks — in the rebounding department that is.
KU out-rebounded Kansas State in a 70-56 road win Monday night, ending a 10-game streak of losing the battle of the boards. Newman led Kansas with 10 rebounds, and the Jayhawks gathered 41 total to K-State’s 31.
Newman also gets into how KU handled a hostile environment, and a funny pre-game scene at Bramlage Coliseum, where KSU students heckled Udoka Azubuike’s free throws as if he were taking them late in the game.
Note from Matt Tait: Because I had to run before finishing up my writing tonight, I wasn't sure if Tom and Benton had done a KU Sports Extra. It turns out they did. I should've known they would. Pros!
By the time mine finished uploading back at home, their version was already on the site. Rather than scrap it, I figured I'd go ahead and post mine, too. That's just what you get here at KUsports.com.
So consider this your lucky day (or whatever you want to consider it)... Two KU Sports Extra episodes for the price of one.
And, contrary to what I point out early in my episode, you do get Tom Keegan's thoughts in the video above. Enjoy!
Scroll down for my solo breakdown of KU's 79-68 victory over Texas A&M in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk explains all that went into the Jayhawks’ 79-68 victory over Texas A&M in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, including how KU’s speed proved more effective than the Aggies’ size.
Mykhailiuk added Kansas had to play tough to win, with he and freshman Marcus Garrett playing the 4 versus a bigger A&M front line.