Mykhailiuk’s late three-pointer propels KU past Huskers
LINCOLN, Neb. – Trailing 72-70 with less than 30 seconds remaining, Kansas senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk connected on the go-ahead three-pointer to help the No. 13 Jayhawks to a 73-72 win over Nebraska inside Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday night. Sophomore Udoka Azubuike led all scorers with a career-high 26 points, while senior Devonte’ Graham added 18.
The win broke a two-game losing skid for the Jayhawks, who moved to 8-2 on the year.
With the Jayhawks in a two-point hole and staring a third-straight loss in the eyes, Graham found Mykhailiuk with some space on the left wing, where he connected on his second 3-pointer of the game to put Kansas ahead 73-72 with 20 seconds remaining.
On Nebraska’s ensuing possession, the Cornhuskers managed to get off a pair of shots, but could not get the lid off the rim. Azubuike finally corralled the ball for his 10th rebound of the game, throwing it to the other end of the floor as time expired.
While Kansas had to come from behind late, the Jayhawks led for much of the contest.
Azubuike paced the Jayhawks in the early minutes, helping his team weather a quick 4-0 deficit by scoring six of KU’s first nine points. Graham also was key to KU’s early offense, hitting each of his first four shots. The senior guard was in double figures (11) before the second media timeout as the Jayhawks held a 21-15 advantage just before the midway point of the opening half. The Azubuike-Graham combination produced each of the Jayhawks’ first 10 field goals as KU maintained a seven-point lead at the 9:31 mark.
The Cornhuskers fought their way back over the next five minutes and used a 12-5 run to knot the score at 30 with just under four minutes to play before the intermission. With the Pinnacle Bank Arena fans on their feet, Mykhailiuk quieted the crowd with a jumper before another Azubuike dunk and a pair of Mitch Lightfoot free throws helped get Kansas the slight edge at halftime, 36-33.
Azubuike and Graham kicked off the second half much like the first, scoring nine of their team’s first 11 points, with Azubuike putting in three buckets and Graham connecting on a 3-pointer. Lagerald Vick got the Jayhawks up 49-43 on a lay-in at the 14:27 mark, but once again Nebraska refused to let KU build its lead any further.
A pair of treys from Isaac Copeland and Thomas Allen sandwiched an Isaiah Roby jumper that pulled the Cornhuskers even at 51 with more than 12 minutes to play. Two minutes later, Glynn Watson Jr. hit his first three of the game to hand his squad its first lead since the early minutes, 54-53.
Kansas didn’t panic and seized back the momentum moments later when Mykhailiuk hit his first 3-pointer of the game to kick-start a 9-2 KU run that gave the Jayhawks a 66-59 lead. But as they had done all game, the Cornhuskers found a way to cut into the deficit.
Two NU field goals, a pair of charity shots and a James Palmer Jr. 3-pointer put the Huskers back in the lead, 68-66, with 2:30 left to play. Following a Bill Self timeout, Lagerald Vick sent in an alley-oop slam to tie the score again, but Anton Gill responded with two free throws on the other end. Nebraska was back on top with less than two minutes remaining.
Azubuike tied the game at 70 on a put-back tip-in with his 25th and 26th points as the clock ticked past the one-minute mark. Nebraska wasted little time regaining the lead once again after Palmer Jr. got into the paint and scored over the outstretched arm of Azubuike. NU led, 72-70.
Mykhailiuk connected on what would be the game-winning 3-pointer 20 seconds later and, following the defensive stop on Nebraska’s final chance, Kansas secured the win.
Azubuike’s career-high 26 points were highlighted by another efficient night from the field. The NCAA’s field goal percentage leader made 13 of his 17 attempts. His career night was also paired with 10 rebounds, marking the third double-double of his career.
Graham scored in double-figures for the sixth time in his last seven outings, netting 18 points on 5 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 from beyond the three-point line. Mykhailiuk was the third Jayhawk in double figures with 14 points, 12 of which came in the final 20 minutes.
Kansas returns to Allen Fieldhouse to host Omaha on Monday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m., on ESPN2 with Jason Benetti and Dan Dakich calling the action. This will be the first meeting between Kansas and Omaha in men’s basketball.
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