After playing just one solitary minute in the last three games, Svi Mykhailiuk was more than ready for action on Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore from Cherkasy, Ukraine scored 10 points off 4-of-7 shooting and had four assists, three steals and one turnover — providing a needed spark in Kansas University’s 77-59 victory over Kansas State.
“Svi was as good defensively as any of our guards today,” KU coach Bill Self said, explaining that he went with Mykhailiuk off the bench because of his recent stellar play at practice.
“I think the last two days in practice he looked more confident and he is a better perimeter defender,” Self said. “We could have gone with Lagerald (Vick). I told our guys (assistants), ‘Svi is shooting the heck out of the ball. Let’s see if we can get him in there.’ He played with more confidence.”
View a gallery of images from Wednesday night's Sunflower Showdown between the Jayhawks and Wildcats at Allen Fieldhouse.
The only thing Mykhailiuk didn’t do well in his 21-minute stint was sink threes.
He cashed one of four. But he was pivotal in a 16-4 run that turned a 16-7 deficit into a 23-20 advantage in the first half.
“I’ve been trying to work hard every practice. I knew my time was going to come. I had to be ready,” said Mykhailiuk, whose 10 points were his most since scoring 10 against Montana on Dec. 19. “I thought I played pretty good defense and moved the ball.”
Why hadn’t he played but a minute the last three contests, since missing six of seven shots in a 16-minute stint at Oklahoma State?
“I would say Lagerald and Brannen Greene were pretty good. They played pretty good in games. There was no need to put me in,” Mykhailiuk said. “It was pretty good to play 20 minutes again. I was trying to be aggressive and get my teammates better and work hard at practice.”
Mykhailiuk had two key steals in that early 16-4 run. The first led to a Landen Lucas bucket and the second led to his own three. The student section chanted, “Svi, Svi” after that first-half trey.
“Hearing the crowd yelling your name ... it gives you a lot of energy,” Mykhailiuk said.
Senior Perry Ellis, who had 19 points off 8-of-11 shooting with five rebounds and four turnovers with two steals, said: “I thought Svi did real well. He came out and tried to play hard and did some really good things.”
Before Kansas basketball coach Bill Self fielded questions from the media after the Jayhawks' win over Kansas State, he apologized to KU's rivals for Brannen Greene's last-second basket in a 77-59 win.
Mykhailiuk played along with reporters after the game as they tried to get him to open up.
“What’s one thing people should know about you?” a reporter asked the 18-year-old soph.
“I’m really good at ping pong,” he said, noting there is one similarity between the two sports. “The ball is really small, so focus maybe,” he said.
KU senior Jamari Traylor (five points, four boards) confirmed Mykhailiuk is a ping pong standout.
Kansas basketball players Perry Ellis, Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonté Graham discuss the Jayhawks' Sunflower Showdown victory over rival Kansas State.
“He’s actually really good, him, Devonté (Graham), Evan (Manning) and Tyler (Self) too,” Traylor said. “He’s really good. When we were in the dorms there was a guy from Japan. They’d go at it. Svi would get him two out of five times,” Traylor added.
Back to basketball ... what can fans expect out of Mykhailiuk the rest of the year?
“Energy,” he said, “and trying to make my teammates better.”
KU, which hit 55.1 percent of its shots on a night it was outrebounded 36-21 by the Wildcats, improved to 18-4 overall and 6-3 in the league heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m., game at TCU. K-State dropped to 13-9, 2-7.
— See what people were saying about the Sunflower Showdown during KUsports.com’s live coverage.