Jayhawks cruise again on Italy Tour with 92-61 rout
ROME – It was déjà vu for Kansas men’s basketball as the Jayhawks cruised to a 92-61 win against the Players Group Thursday evening at Honey Sport City. KU improved to 2-0 on its 2017 Italy Tour after posting a 90-56 win against Stella Azzurra HSC Roma a day earlier.
Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike led KU with 15 points. The Delta, Nigeria, big man recorded dunks on all seven of his field goals in the contest, giving him 12 dunks in the two Kansas Italy Tour victories. With the win, the Jayhawks improved to 81-9 all-time in exhibition play and now have won their last 22 exhibition contests dating back to 2012.
In the win against the Players Group, Kansas used a balanced attack as four other Jayhawks joined Azubuike in scoring in double figures. Sophomore guard Malik Newman had 13 points, sophomore guard Charlie Moore 12, senior guard Devonte’ Graham 11 and freshman guard Marcus Garett added 10. Garrett posted a double-double pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds along with three steals.
Bill Self saw his team improve to 2-0 on its Italy Tour Thursday in Rome.“I think it was kind of like last night,” KU head coach Bill Self said. “It was almost the same score until the last minute, exactly the same score. I thought our core group initially played pretty well. We lost a little bit when we subbed. All in all, it wasn’t bad.”
Midway through the first quarter, KU trailed the Italian professional all-star squad 9-8 and then 500-plus fans saw the Jayhawks catch fire, scoring 20 straight points en route to a 28-12 first quarter advantage. Garrett highlighted the period scoring seven points, which included a steal and layup to give KU a 25-9 lead with 40 seconds remaining.
Up 44-26 in the second quarter, Kansas scored eight-straight points in the final three minutes of the period to take a 52-26 lead into halftime. Azubuike led the charge, slamming three dunks in the span of 1:15.
For the second-straight game, KU spent halftime in a shaded area just outside the arena as the temperature once again in Rome was over 100 degrees in the early afternoon.
Azubuike started the second half the way he ended the first with three dunks to give KU a 59-32 lead as the Jayhawks cruised to the victory. Second half standouts included sophomore K.J. Lawson who scored five points and pulled down seven rebounds as well as sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot who tallied six points and ended the contest with six boards.
The KU travel contingent spent Thursday morning and early afternoon touring Vatican City, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. On Friday, the travel party will take a train to Milan where the Jayhawks will play two more games on Aug. 5 and 6. KU will face the Players Group for the second-straight game on Aug. 5 and an Italy All Star A2 squad on Aug. 6. Both games will be played at PalaSport Enrico Somaschini (PalaPorada), and will tip at 7 p.m. local, 12 p.m. (CT).
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