OMAHA, Neb. — Udoka Azubuike's knee brace served as a reminder he's not completely healed from a left knee injury he suffered before the Big 12 tournament.
However, the 7-foot, 280-pound Delta, Nigeria-native gave a relatively positive outlook when asked how he was feeling.
"It's feeling better, way better than I was last week," Azubuike said. "Yeah, I'm ready."
Azubuike said he couldn't put a percentage on how healthy he felt, but he did note things are moving in the right direction.
"Obviously not 100 percent," he said, "but I'm getting there."
Omaha, Neb. — Shortly after his Kansas basketball team arrived at its hotel Wednesday night, coach Bill Self said his top-seeded Jayhawks are as healthy as they have been all season, ahead of their Sweet 16 matchup with Clemson.
What’s more, Self said 7-foot KU center Udoka Azubuike has been participating at full speed.
“Now, his timing may not be great,” Self warned of Azubuike, who recently sprained the MCL in his left knee, “but his health is good. If we take him out it’ll probably be because he picks up two silly fouls early, not because of any type of problems.”
The Jayhawks (29-7) take on the Tigers (25-9) at 6:07 p.m. Friday, at CenturyLink Center.
Wichita — Devonte' Graham and the Jayhawks needed a big performance from their biggest player against Seton Hall.
In their 83-79 win, it was exactly what they got.
"He told us he was going to be ready to play," Graham said of the hobbled Udoka Azubuike. "It just enabled us to play four around one."
Azubuike finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Azubuike played only 22 minutes, but Graham felt he could have had even better numbers if the Jayhawks had gotten him the ball more in the first half.
"I said it at halftime, 'We've got to start throwing him the ball,'" Graham said. "We had to throw the ball to the big fella."
WICHITA — After appearing for only three minutes in his team's 76-60 win over Penn, KU big man Udoka Azubuike said he was doing better on Friday.
"I practiced today with my team," Azubuike said. "I feel good."
"Are you going to play, tomorrow?" he was asked.
"Oh yeah, yeah," Azubuike said. "Definitely."
WICHITA — Silvio De Sousa called KU's Friday practice "great."
"(KU big Udoka Azubuike) was going really hard today," De Sousa said. "From my point of view, I think he's ready to go."
De Sousa covered all sorts of topics in his Friday news conference, including his own experience going through his first year of college and what he thinks of Seton Hall.
Above is some of what he had to say.
Wichita — Limited to three minutes in a 76-60 victory over Penn on Thursday, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said Udoka Azubuike "looked good" during Friday's practice ahead of the Jayhawks' second-round matchup against Seton Hall in the NCAA Tournament.
"We stressed it," said Self of Azubuike's knee (MCL sprain). "We threw him lobs. We did a lot of things to make him go get it to get some confidence. He did a good job with that. He's not 100 percent by any stretch, but I think you can put him out there for 15 minutes or so tomorrow."
Azubuike could play a big role against Seton Hall senior forward Angel Delgado, a second-team all-Big East selection who has averaged 13.3 points and 11.5 rebounds.
Wichita — Scoring 11 points in the first 13 minutes, there was nothing easy about the Kansas basketball team's 76-60 victory over Penn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at Intrust Bank Arena.
"There's been more pleasant dental appointments that I've gone to that," KU coach Bill Self joked. "Yeah I'm glad it's over."
KU senior Devonte' Graham sparked the Jayhawks' offense with 19 points in the first half, despite missing his first few shots.
"Devonte' missed some wide open looks to start the game as we all did," Self said. "That's what happens. You miss some open ones and then the next open ones feel like they are a little bit guarded. But he made a couple of big 3s."
Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, after playing three minutes in the first half of the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament victory over Penn, said he could have played in the second half, too.
The Jayhawks’ 7-footer, still working his way back form a left-knee injury, said KU coach Bill Self deemed the typical starter didn’t need to play down the stretch of a 76-60 victory.
After not attempting a shot and contributing one rebound and one steal during a stretch from the 8:32 mark to the 5:51 mark of the first half, Azubuike said he didn’t feel hesitant to jump while playing with a brace on his left knee.
“I was only concerned with my running, getting back on defense, sliding my feet,” Azubuike said. “That’s pretty much what I was really concerned about. I wasn’t concerned about my jump, because I know once you throw me a lob or something I’m going to jump and get it.”
The Kansas basketball team conducted an open practice ahead of its first-round matchup against Penn in the NCAA Tournament.
Wichita — One day before the start of the NCAA Tournament, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said he wants the Jayhawks to play loose when they tip off against Penn in the first round at 1 p.m. Thursday (TV: TBS) at Intrust Bank Arena.
"Every kid growing up that plays this game, they dream of in the backyard or in the driveway of playing in this tournament and this moment," Self said. "There shouldn't be any what-ifs."
After an earlier practice Wednesday, Self said Udoka Azubuike (MCL sprain) will be a game-time decision for the Jayhawks' first round game.