Jayhawk Insider: Four Pieces to a Win
By Sophie Darting
LAWRENCE, Kan. – On a night the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks had difficulty finding the net, it was a trio of upperclassmen in Lagerald Vick, Dedric Lawson and Udoka Azubuike, as well as freshman David McCormack that helped fend off the upset-minded Ragin’ Cajuns.
Coming off of a career-high 32-point game on Monday against Vermont, Vick was even more impressive against Louisiana. He connected on 7-of-12 from beyond the 3-point line and was one rebound shy of a double-double. His 33 points were a new career-high and marked his first time scoring over 30 points in back-to-back contests. He was also the first Jayhawk to record back-to-back games with seven or more three pointers.
As the team’s lone senior and following in the footsteps of past senior standouts Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III, Vick feels as if it is his job to step into the all-important leadership role.
“I’ve got to be a leader for the team,” Vick said after the game. “(It’s my) Last time going through this and I want to leave it all out there for the team.”
Head coach Bill Self was especially impressed with Vick’s performance.
“We have the hottest player in America right now in Lagerald,” Self said after Friday night’s win. “He was unbelievable again, he got nine rebounds, played all 40 minutes, and certainly he’s playing at a level that even Frank (Mason) and Devonte’ (Graham) didn’t play at consistently right now. Hopefully he can keep that going, although making shots isn’t always the easiest thing to do but he did a lot of other things also.”
After getting off to a slow start with only four points in the first half, Dedric Lawson found his rhythm in the second half, scoring 15 points and finding teammate Udoka Azubuike for a pair of assists. Lawson also helped to extend the lead late in the second half after netting 7-of-10 free throw opportunities.
Udoka Azubuike had limited minutes in the first half after getting into foul trouble early, but arrived fresh in the second half and gave KU the boost they were looking for.
During the second half, Azubuike recorded four of his six dunks, with three of them coming in the final three minutes, and seven of his eight rebounds. He finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, only two rebounds away from a double-double.
“I thought Dok (Azubuike) played really well in the second half.” Self said. “He (Azubuike) is a monster down there. He had a lot of strong finishes and he was turned up defensively.”
McCormack had the biggest game of his young career, with six rebounds and a blocked shot in only 10 minutes of playing time. He provided some much needed relief defensively when Azubuike was hampered with foul trouble in the first half. Self attributed much of his team’s effort in erasing the deficit before halftime to the freshman forward.
“Thank goodness for David McCormack,” Self explained. “David got in the game and even though he didn’t do a lot, he just guarded his man and tried real hard. We went from down eight or nine to up four at halftime. David gets a lot of credit for that.”
Kansas will face Marquette in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off, Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. (CT) inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Kansas is 6-1 all-time versus Marquette with the last meeting on April 5, 2003, in the Final Four in New Orleans, a 94-61 KU win.
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