Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Notebook: KU guard Ochai Agbaji misses 10th-ranked Kansas’ win at Iowa State because of COVID-19

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) drives past St. John's guard Tareq Coburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) drives past St. John's guard Tareq Coburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


Ames, Iowa — The 10th-ranked Jayhawks’ latest trip to Hilton Coliseum became decidedly more difficult when senior guard Ochai Agbaji was ruled out of Tuesday’s clash with No. 20 Iowa State seven hours before tipoff.

Agbaji did not make the trip for Tuesday’s 70-61 win because of what a KU spokesperson called “COVID-19 health and safety protocols” late Tuesday morning.

Kansas coach Bill Self said on his pregame radio show that freshman Kyle Cuffe Jr., who is redshirting, was in COVID protocol, as well. Cuffe also did not make the trip.

“We had a couple players who had symptoms over the weekend and they tested positive,” Self said. “And then we’ve done all the other precautions to make sure everybody else is good to go.”

Throughout the season, KU and Big 12 policy with COVID cases has been to test all players if one player tested positive. Similar policies are in place at other conferences and universities throughout the country.

Self said it was too early to know when Agbaji would return.

“He’s actually feeling OK,” Self said. “But he’s going to be out for an indefinite period of time. We certainly hope that’s on a very short number of days, as opposed to extended, but we don’t know that right now.”

Agbaji’s availability for Saturday's home game against No. 8 Baylor will depend largely on when the positive test result was returned.

According to the latest guidance from the NCAA, "COVID-19 management considerations suggest five days of quarantine after a positive test with isolation ending after five days if there are no symptoms or symptoms are resolving."

The NCAA also recommends mask wearing around others for five additional days and indicates that "participation in athletic activities without a mask during days six through 10 can be considered following a negative PCR/NAAT test or antigen test."

Agbaji entered the week leading KU and the Big 12 Conference in scoring at 20.9 points per game. In recent weeks, he had been mentioned on a national scale as a likely All-American and potential national player of the year candidate.

Super-senior Jalen Coleman-Lands started in Agbaji’s place against his old team on Tuesday night.

Agbaji’s absence ended a streak of 97 consecutive starts, which ranks eighth on KU’s all-time list.

Hilton atmosphere

The first groups of students lined up around the building hours before tipoff and were let inside just after 4:15 p.m.

It was evident from the first minute that they were ready for this one. With signs in tow, their faces painted and their voices ready to wreak havoc, the most die-hard Iowa State fans started filling the venue with noise long before the countdown clock started ticking toward tipoff.

Known for years for it’s “Hilton Magic,” the Cyclones’ home arena for this one better resembled Hilton Madness, with the students even taking a page out of the K-State students’ playbook, chanting “(Expletive) KU!” repeatedly when Mitch Lightfoot appeared as the first Jayhawk out of the locker room.

The chant continued at different points throughout the first half and the ISU fans — as they have been known to do — acted as a sixth-man of sorts for the Cyclones. With every dribble, pass or pivot by a Kansas player, the Jayhawks had to deal with one of the five ISU players on the floor and the suffocating screams of the Hilton crowd.

Injury update

The depth of the 2021-22 Kansas basketball team has been depleted by injuries throughout the season, with four key members of KU’s regular rotation dealing with some sort of ailment.

The status of Remy Martin’s knee has been closely watched — and well documented — during the past several weeks, but freshmen Bobby Pettiford and Zach Clemence also continue to be hobbled.

Martin made the trip Tuesday but did not suit up or play.

“He feels, and we feel, that (we should) give it an extended period of time (to heal), whether it be 5, 7, 10 (days), two weeks,” Self said on his pregame radio show. “We do not know when he will be closer to 100%. We’re all in agreement on that strategy and hope like heck it’s sooner than later.”

Self said Monday that Clemence was “at least another week” away from returning from the toe injury that has kept him out of action since Jan. 11. Clemence has worn a walking boot for much of that time but also returned to the team for pregame warm-ups a week ago, only to see him back in a boot and street clothes for the Kentucky game and on Tuesday night at Iowa State.

Pettiford, meanwhile, is still dealing with the abdominal injury that shut him down for several weeks earlier this season. Self said Pettiford was still not 100% and that KU would not see “the real him” until he gets back to that point. Self added: “But he’s a heck of a lot better than he was two weeks ago. So he’s trending in the right direction.”

Then there’s senior forward David McCormack, who has played in all 21 games and made 18 starts. After offseason foot surgery kept him out for most of the spring and summer, McCormack has been a full participant throughout the season. However, on Monday, Self said that McCormack was “not 100% healthy and not going to be 100% healthy all year long, with his foot. It’s sore.”

This and that…

The Jayhawks are now 3-0 this season in games following a loss. That moves KU’s all-time record after losses under Self to 106-15. … The Jayhawks have now won six games in a row over the Cyclones, including a 28-22 record in games played at Hilton Coliseum. … KU is now 10-1 this season in games played away from Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks are also 4-1 in Big 12 road games, with the only loss coming at Texas Tech. … KU leads the all-time series with Iowa State 188-66. Self is 33-10 all-time against ISU, including a 32-10 mark in his 19 seasons at Kansas.


Andy Godwin 6 months, 1 week ago

Well I guess even Superman is susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. Tough break especially on the road and in the hostile confines in Ames. As we hear all the time - "next man up". Good luck Jayhawks. Rock Chalk.

Bryce Landon 6 months, 1 week ago

Ah, $#!+. Guess we can forget about winning this game. We barely beat ISU at home with Ochai; what's gonna happen to us without him?

Rae Bricil 6 months, 1 week ago

Remy hurt, dave regressed back to a former state, no Och--this is going to be painful. hopefully some others step up--i have no idea where scoring comes from at this point.

harris is not a scorer, braun doesn't seem able to create his own shot---possibly Jwill or Cor JCL?

ku still showing as 2.5 pt favorites....

also as long as Remy is not our primary pt guard and we get what we get out of the 5 position i just don't see this team as a final four team. hopefully wrong but after that UK game--it had the feel of the globe trotters vs the generals--that said, i could only watch the first half having seen enough.

Jonathan Allison 6 months, 1 week ago

If he's sick, then I absolutely hope that he recovers quickly and gets back to 100%. In my experience infection with omicron caused intense fever that lasted for roughly 12 hours followed by a very rapid recovery. Unfortunately with omicron vaccines and mask wearing are not effective at preventing a rapid spread of the virus.

The players don't live in a bubble so any one of them could be incubating the virus at any given moment. They are all at minimal risk of severe outcomes from this disease. I haven't been on campus in years, but I assume that they still go to classes and sit in classrooms and lecture halls with recirculated air. Unless all of the students are wearing N95 respirators with proper training and fit then aren't these athletes "at risk" of being exposed to the virus in class. The covid protocols no longer make sense. They were adopted during the delta wave when fewer people were vaccinated and when the vaccination was more effective at preventing the spread of the virus, and when infection with the virus was more severe.

In my opinion it's time to end the mandates, end the protocols and get back to common sense. If a player is sick he/she shouldn't play. If they feel well enough to play then they should let the coaches/staff know the situation and make an informed risk based decision. They may choose to keep the player away from the team in an attempt to prevent spreading the illness to the rest of the team, or they may choose to play on.

Ochai, please get better, and be ready to go for Baylor.

*disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, and no one should take anything that I have written as medical advice. Please consult with a doctor concerning your own health risks

Bville Hawk 6 months, 1 week ago

I couldn't agree more, Jonathan, on your comments about ending the mandates. Those among us with extreme covid paranoia need to buy the best N95 mask they can afford and wear it anytime they come up out of their mom's basement. If they will feel safer wearing a full haz-mat suit then do it by all means, but quit expecting the rest of us to assuage your paranoia.

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

So Jon the whole world is wrong and you are right?

Not sure if you are keeping up with current events, but the USA leads the world in Omicron deaths right now. The data shows that poor vaccination rates by the elderly are the cause.

My guess - misinformation like yours, who as you state are "not a medical professional", certainly does not help.

*disclaimer lol, I read, consult reputable non policital sources, and my doctor. If you did maybe you don't have to add one of these to your misinformation.

Lines are being drawn Jon, and guess what you are on the wrong side.

Jonathan Allison 6 months, 1 week ago

you're the real mvp Rodney. keep up the good work. follow the science

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

lol Jon. wish more would! Try it, facts are refreshing in todays mess.

Steve Schoenekase 6 months, 1 week ago

I'll preface this with the fact that I'm not a medical professional either, but I do have a brain, and more importantly, a heart!

I have personally lost seven (yes seven) close friends and family members to COVID over the past 2 years. I'm currently watching a dear friend fight for her life, isolated from her husband and son, while trying to beat the so called "minor" Omicron variant.

That said, screw all of you that want to complain about the masks being uncomfortable or stupid. Screw everyone that claims that the vaccines don't work. Check the unbiased, non-political facts. Do masks stop the spread? No, but they make a huge difference. Do the vaccines keep you from ever getting sick? No, but birth control doesn't work 100% of the time either! The facts are that masks make a difference, vaccines help, and limiting exposure is the best way to minimize the risk.

Your right to freedom to choose what you will or will not do ends when it encroaches on another person's right to health and safety. Stop making this about yourself and YOU want. Think about others. Put their needs ahead of your own, even if their needs seem irrational to you. Remember, it's not about YOU!

I hate wearing a mask every time I go out. I wasn't thrilled to get the vaccine, but I did it for my family, my friends, and my community. I need to stop going to COVID funerals and I need you all to help with that.

Steve Schoenekase 6 months, 1 week ago

P.S. - I hope Ochai and Kyle recover soon and the rest if the team stays healthy. I pray that the rest of the study body remains healthy and that those affected recover well. I pray for all of you to not have to deal with the level of loss I have from this virus, and I look forward to the day that this is but a note in a history book.

Rock Chalk!

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

Well said Steve.

Hope your friend makes it

I have lost 6 now myself.

Micky Baker 6 months, 1 week ago

This one's gonna hurt unless CB and Jalen Wilson both have big nights. Just limit the turnovers, use the shot clock, and play sound defense. Everyone is going to have to give their best effort, no loafing tonight until 0:00 2nd half. Don't make lazy passes, make their defenders commit and back door them. We do not do this enough, and if we did, we probably would have two more wins than we have and wouldn't be barely scraping by.

Sae Thirtysix 6 months, 1 week ago

Hate this! Mostly for Ochai. Absolutely great person, warm / friendly / straightforward / competitive. I can only imagine how he must be feeling, not traveling.

Can hardly wait to read comments from Comrade RC . . .lockdowns & mandates, lions - tiggers - cyclones, oh my.

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

See above Sae. Thanks for the shout out? I have Belguim ancestory by the way. So, as is often the case on here, let me help you out - if you want to "get me" with a racist slang term to make yourself feel better about yourself, anything from the Netherlands, France or German would be more accurate to use. At least you will be right about something on here.

*disclaimer lol, Sae, you are on the wrong, and on the minority side of Covid. The majority have had enough of rants like yours. I understand you are afraid. It will be ok.

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

Je hebt het goed Sae!!!

Waarmee kan ik je verder helpen?

Sae Thirtysix 6 months, 1 week ago

Ya Vol!! (racist? or perjorative? . . . hmmm)

Dale Stringer 6 months, 1 week ago

Good. Maybe this will get CB to start the catch and shoot again.

Daniel Kennamore 6 months, 1 week ago

Honestly this could be good for the team, having to play without their 'go to' scorer for a couple games.

Bj Cassady 6 months, 1 week ago

Och forced a lot of shots vs UK so we just need to get back to team ball that is simple enuf.

Lee Short 6 months, 1 week ago

Rodney's reference to the whole world is simply wrong. Rodney is ill-informed and passing on misinformation in this regard.

Rodney may want to broaden his news sources if he going to reference what the whole world talents.

There is going to be a lot if crow eaten by a whole bunch if people when a post morten study is performed on all the absolutist statements that have been made. A lot of review and revision,world-wide is presently underway. Science evolves.

Alternatively, we could all just keep this forum tied directly sports vs venturing into tangential subjects.

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for joining the fray Lee. Pease start reading and stop listening to podcast. You forgot your disclaimer by the way.

I use the current data from reputable, up to date sources. Not my own from the hip statements. What are your sources Lee? Two of mine are below. I have others but I do not think you read much and listing them all would be a waste of time. How can you ever learn if I do everything for you?

References you would want to use for my posts:

Michael Osterholm PhD EMD, John Hopkins (they collect all Covid data from every hospital in the USA and publish it). He is the best epidemiologist-- hunters of infectious diseases, in our country. He visits ground zero of every outbreak. He has been doing this for decades, written books, and predicted this actually. Not how foolish people would be though. Their site on Covid is excellent.

Reuters news, they collect and publish data on the countries in the EU. They also connect the detail on what they report on. They also report on world data as well. Considered the best place to go to get up to date worldwide data, projections and the latest variants. It's free too.

The entire world Lee reacts to an outbreak the same way. Some are very strict actually. In Australia during a lockdown you cannot travel to other provinces. Here it would be like not traveling from Kansas to Nebraska by driving.

Not sure why you would ever think people are not doing an ongoing post mortem (it has an M on the end not a N Lee). It's been 2 years of this and is costing lives, money and generating more misinformation, like yours, than we have ever seen.

I think after we finally make it past this history is going to say that people like you, will be blamed for spreading misinformation that confused people on following the advice of Healthcare officials. Social media will get a rap on the knuckles too. Spotify has lost $10 billion this week. People have had enough of fools spreading misinformation. Your not on the right side of this Lee.

I tend to only react to Covid posts on here that make false or misleading claims on Covid. Like yours. As you say this is a sports site, but whenever Covid is mentioned, like everything in our lives, Covid comments comes up.

Welcome! I am looking forward to helping you get straight on this.

disclaimer - I use actual facts.

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