Kansas basketball players Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike and Marcus Garrett discuss their team's 79-52 exhibition win over Washburn.
The Jayhawks face Michigan State to open the season on Tuesday.
Kansas junior center Udoka Azubuike got to show off his improved free throw stroke Thursday night in the Jayhawks’ exhibition win over Washburn.
After going 0 for 2 at the foul line in KU’s preseason opener a week earlier, Azubuike knocked in five in a row and five of six overall on his way to 17 points in 18 minutes.
“It really boosts my confidence,” Azubuike said of his showing. “Free throws are something I’ve been working on throughout the offseason. You can see my whole form’s totally changed and I’ve been working on it.”
Azubuike said he was able to compose himself and follow his routine at the charity stripe, and he was glad to see them go in. The 7-footer added the key to his success is a more natural form on his foul shots.
The Kansas men's basketball team competed in a scrimmage with former players at Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Wednesday.
The Red team had little trouble blowing out the Blue team.
Sam Cunliffe 9, Udoka Azubuike 14, Dedric Lawson 10, Charlie Moore 26, K.J. Lawson 2, Devon Dotson 7, Mitch Lightfoot 6, Ochai Agbaji 2, Marcus Garrett 4.
Wayne Selden 6, Devonte’ Graham 8, Mario Chalmers 0, Travis Releford 4, Silvio De Sousa 10, Elijah Johnson 5, David McCormack 8, Chris Teahan 3.
Following a scrimmage Tuesday afternoon at the University of Kansas basketball camp, freshman big man David McCormack praised the Jayhawks’ frontcourt depth.
Even though returning starting center Udoka Azubuike sat out the first-to-80 pick-up game due to illness, campers watching inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center got to see the 6-foot-10 McCormack, as well as Dedric Lawson, Silvio De Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot.
“We’re all skilled. We’re all powerful,” McCormack said. “We all know how to play the game and we play to our strengths.”
So just how good could KU’s group of bigs be in the upcoming 2018-19 season?
“I feel like we have the best frontcourt in the nation,” McCormack said.
San Antonio — Udoka Azubuike looked at the ground and shook his head. Moments removed from a season-ending loss to Villanova, he was asked to explain the shooting effort by KU's opponent.
"They don't even look at the rim sometimes," Azubuike said. "I've never seen a team shoot this way."
Azubuike and the Jayhawks struggled to defend the 3-point barrage from Villanova, surrendering 18 made 3-pointers and allowing the Wildcats to shoot better than 55 percent from the field.
Still, Azubuike said there were positives he could take away from the season, especially looking back on all KU accomplished.
"We just stuck together as a family," Azubuike said, "and tackled every obstacle."
San Antonio — Mitch Lightfoot is happy to be at the Final Four for a number of reasons.
“It beats the hell out of sitting in class,” Lightfoot joked. “I love class and everything, but thank God I’m not there.”
Lightfoot and the Jayhawks will match up against Villanova in the Final Four on Saturday, attempting to advance to the National Championship game for the first time since 2012.
In prepping for the Wildcats, the KU sophomore has noticed some similarities between the two teams. One of those aspects, Lightfoot said, is that Villanova has six different guys who are all capable of shooting from 3-point range.
“That’s kind of how we do play,” Lightfoot said. “You’ve got to get out to their shooters.”
San Antonio — Hopeful for the opportunity to see his mother for the first time in six years at the Final Four this week, Kansas sophomore Udoka Azubuike is trying to contain his emotions.
Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder wrote on Twitter that Azubuike’s mom was approved for a visa, but coach Bill Self cautioned the school’s staff is still scrambling a little and there may be issues with her flights.
“She’s never seen me play at all,” Azubuike said. “She’s never seen me play basketball. I don’t know. It’s going to be an emotional moment for me. I don’t know how to handle it.”
It was a simple question posed to Udoka Azubuike on Tuesday: what did it mean to him to advance to the Final Four?
Azubuike quickly turned to some of the hardest parts of the season, including the Jayhawks' home losses, and said that's what made it more special.
"What we've been through right from the jump, it's not been easy," Azubuike said. "There's been a lot of humps, ups and downs, negatives and positives, all that stuff. But it really means a lot, man. This team never gave up."
Omaha, Neb. — Udoka Azubuike has not been to San Antonio...
"I'm so excited," said the KU big man after a win over Duke. "It is nice this time of year."
Azubuike and the Jayhawks advanced to the Final Four with an overtime win over Duke. The Jayhawks held on in the extra period without Azubuike (five fouls), thanks in part to the play of freshman Silvio De Sousa.
"He stepped up big time," Azubuike said. "He did good."
Omaha, Neb. — As he has during every media session since injuring his left knee before the Big 12 tournament, Kansas center Udoka Azubuike provided another update on his status Saturday, on the eve of the Elite Eight.
The 7-foot sophomore said he couldn’t really tell what percentage his knee was at but admitted it’s still not 100 percent — he is wearing a brace on it after all.
The starting center remembered head coach Bill Self saying Azubuike’s left knee was 100 percent before the Clemson game and laughed. KU’s big man said he aggravated his knee “a little bit” on a fall during KU’s Sweet 16 win Friday night.
“But it’s not that serious,” he added, the day before the Jayhawks’ regional final showdown against Duke, and freshman bigs Wendell Carter Jr., and Marvin Bagley III.
Azubuike added he hopes his knee will feel close to 100 percent against the Blue Devils.