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Jayhawks overcome cold shooting to beat Davidson

The Kansas Jayhawks have been letting the threes fly this season, and so far, they’ve had a lot of success in doing so. Coming into Saturday’s showdown with the Davidson Wildcats, the Jayhawks were shooting 43 percent from three on the season, good for sixth in the country.

After shooting 0-8 from three in the first half, Kansas found themselves tied at 58 with under 12 minutes to go in the game. However, they finished on a 31-13 run, shooting 4-8 from beyond the three-point line and coming out on top 89-71. 

With a balanced attack early on, Kansas was able to get out to an early 17-9 lead. The Wildcats fought back with the three-point shot, shooting 7-16 in the first half, and eventually taking a 43-42 lead into the locker room after a Nathan Ekwu layup at the buzzer.

The teams traded baskets for much of the start of the second half, at least until the under 12 timeout. Coming out of that timeout, the Jayhawks went on a 23-5 run, with much of the run being sparked by sophomore forward Carlton Bragg. Bragg, who was playing in his first game since being suspended, finished the game with seven points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes.

Bragg spent much of the run as the man in the middle, surrounded by a mix of Josh Jackson, Frank Mason, Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Lagerald Vick. Senior Landen Lucas also fared well in the middle, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and a block in 21 minutes. Freshman starter Udoka Azubuike played just seven minutes, recording five points and no rebounds.

Kansas was led in scoring by Mason and Jackson. Mason finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, and did most of his damage at the foul line where he went 8-9. Jackson finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Graham and Myhailiuk also finished in double digits with 10 and 13 points, respectively.

What to watch going forward

The rotation still seems to be a very fluid thing for Bill Self. Self generally ends up playing about eight guys come postseason, and those eight are clear right now: Mason, Graham, Jackson, Mykhailiuk, Azubuike, Lucas, Bragg, and Vick.

How those minutes are going to be distributed, however, is going to vary. Mykhailiuk was inserted into the starting lineup after Vick had started the past five games. Mykhailiuk also played 33 minutes, a career high, good for second most on the team behind Mason.

As for the big man spot, Azubuike played just seven minutes after playing double-digit minutes in every game since becoming a starter (though fouls were an issue here). He was outplayed by both Lucas and Bragg, and it would appear that Self has settled on only having one traditional big man on the floor for most of the game. It will be interesting to watch the battle for playing time between those three as the season moves along.

Next Game Information

Kansas will play their first road game of the season on Thursday in Las Vegas against UNLV at 8.

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Feature photo courtesty of Baylor98 on Wikipedia.