Monday night’s Kansas Jayhawks tilt with the Texas Longhorns was hardly a finesse matchup, but in the end KU was able to pull away for a 69-58 victory, its seventh win in a row.
Like they have throughout the season, the Jayhawks relied on senior center Udoka Azubuike in crucial moments, and he delivered once again.
Azubuike racked up his ninth double-double of the season in the victory, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Most of that production came in the second half, when he scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor while grabbing eight boards.
His effort in the second half rubbed off on the rest of the team, which went from trailing by two points at halftime to a 38-25 advantage in the second half.
“They ramped up their assertiveness,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “We weren’t tough enough in our pick-and-roll ‘D’ to stop them from turning the corner.
Smart said Texas had a hard time matching up with Azubuike when the Longhorns were on defense, even when the KU center showed signs of fatigue.
“He’s really tough to deal with in their pick-and-roll stuff because he’s such a big target,” Smart said. “Even if you have a help defender there, you can throw it up and he can go get it.”
Despite the mysterious and ultimately negative situation entering the game, Self felt positively about Azubuike’s response following the game.
“His attitude was good, I was actually very proud of him,” Self said. “I thought he came out and showed some maturity and responded the way you’re supposed to.”
Self spoke positively of sophomore guard Devon Dotson as well, who was KU’s leading scorer in the second half with 14 of his 16 points. He shot 5-of-10 from the floor on the game. That’s five straight games in which he’s shot 50% or better, including four games at exactly 50%.
He went just 1-of-3 from three-point range, which was the best mark on the team. Senior guard Isaiah Moss knocked down one of his five attempts, while the rest of the Jayhawks missed every three they took.
Three-point shooting has been a constant issue lately for Kansas, but Self said he’s not particularly worried about it for now.
“When’s the last time we shot it well?” Self asked. “We haven’t shot above 30% from three in what seems like a while. I know the lid’s going to come off, and when it does we’re going to be a much better offensive team.”
The Jayhawks have now won seven games in a row overall and six straight Big 12 games, but they’re still a game behind the Baylor Bears in the conference standings, who remain undefeated in league play. They beat the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan on Monday night.
Kansas won’t be home again for 12 days, when it hosts Oklahoma. Next up for the Jayhawks is a trip to Fort Worth this Saturday to face the TCU Horned Frogs, who are tied with Oklahoma and Texas Tech at 4-4 in Big 12 games.