Jayhawks move to 3-0 on Italy Tour with 99-71 win
SEREGNO, Italy – Kansas men’s basketball flexed its muscle in another sweltering venue in defeating the Players Group 99-71 at Palasport Enrico Somaschini just north of Milan Saturday evening.
With temperatures once again 100-plus degrees during the day, the non-air conditioned venue did not play a factor for KU in defeating the Players Group, a collection of Italian professionals, for the second-straight game. The win improved KU to 3-0 on its current tour, 82-9 all-time in exhibition contests, winning its last 23 exhibition contest dating back to 2012.
Kansas used solid second and third quarters in deciding the 28-point victory. The Jayhawks amassed 24 assists on 35 field goals for the game and forced 27 turnovers which KU converted into 25 points.
Freshman Billy Preston led the Jayhawks with seven rebounds.KU junior Lagerald Vick was named the most valuable player of the game after scoring a game-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sophomore guard Malik Newman added 13 points, while K.J. Lawson scored 11 and senior Devonte’ Graham added 11. Playing without sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, who was not feeling well and did not make the trip to Seregno, freshman forward Billy Preston stepped up to score nine points and pull down a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot also assisted in the post with eight points and five rebounds.
Every Jayhawk that dressed for the game reached the scoring column. Senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had seven points, while newcomers Sam Cunliffe, Chris Teahan and Charlie Moore each scored six points. Teahan made both of his 3-point field goals to the delight of the more than 500 fans in attendance.
“I think this was the hottest night we’ve had,” KU head coach Bill Self said. “Our starters still played 20-22 minutes so they did fine. I thought the first quarter was the best we’ve played the entire trip, we just didn’t make any shots.”
KU jumped out to a 10-4 lead and led 20-11 after the first quarter. Newman scored seven points in the period on 2-of-4 shooting, including one 3-pointer. The Jayhawks’ effort after the first quarter would give results as KU scored the first eight points of the second stanza to extend the lead to 28-11. Newman once again led the charge scoring five of the eight in the run. Up 43-25, the Players Group would score the final seven points of the half to give KU a 43-32 halftime lead but the Italians would not get closer the rest of the night.
Like the second quarter, KU exploded in starting the third quarter with an 11-0 run to make the score 54-32. Vick slammed an ally-oop from Newman to start the period and he and Preston each scored four points in the run, while Graham also drained a 3-pointer. KU continued the scoring barrage outdistancing the Players Group 19-4 through the first 6:30 of the period. KU would lead 71-46 after three periods on its way to the route.
Kansas will conclude its four-game Italy tour against a different Italian All-Star team comprised of professionals on Sunday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. local, noon Central, in the same location as today’s game in Seregno. The Jayhawks will tour Milan Sunday morning before playing its game.
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