Kansas Basketball Preview

(This article was originally submitted Oct. 30)

If you are a KU fan it has been a pretty solid week for you.

Whether that was celebrating the shocking win KU football had over Texas Tech on Saturday after nearly beating Texas or KU basketball finally making its return back to the central stage in Lawrence with a 86-56 win over the Fort Hays State Tigers.

There is a lot to like.

For Kansas, coming into this season there was a lot of potential that people were eager to see after a worse than expected season took away their hopes of a 15th straight Big 12 regular season title. Having three seniors in Isaiah Moss, Udoka Azuibuke, and Mitch Lightfoot (Lightfoot has been rumored that he may stay around for one more year) the hype is real because there is nothing more valuable than senior leadership putting the young guys in the best position possible to succeed. That is something they didn’t have much of last year with one senior in LaGerald Vick leaving early because of personal reasons.

Like I just mentioned, much as been said about Mitch Lightfoot redshirting this season in a year that Kansas is very much stacked in the frontcourt with Azubuike, Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa, David Mcormack, Tristan Enaruna, and possibly Jalen Wilson all vying for minutes.

Self said at a press conference on Thursday, “As of right now, we’re thinkin the best option is to redshirt him”

As for the actual game last Thursday, it didn’t come as easy quickly for Kansas as some people would have expected to see. Fort Hays State came out with a gut punch showing Kansas that they were going to give them a game of it as with 14:16 left in the first half they had a 12-7 lead. Kansas quickly turned that around courtesy of a 12-2 run going 19-14 with 11:08 left in the first half courtesy of a basket and two free throws from Lightfoot, two threes from Marcus Garrett and one from incoming freshman Christian Braun. Kansas ended up getting their footing late leading by as many as 15 before going into the halftime break up 11 36-25. 

Like they did in the first half, the Tigers came out firing on all cylinders on a 9-0 to cut the deficit to just two 36-34 with 18:07 left. Then the Jayhawks pushed back with 15-2 spurt of their own leading 51-36 with 13:34 courtesy of an Enaruna layup. The Jayhawks never looked back finishing the tigers on 34-20 run to beat them 86-56 in their first exhibition win of the season.

There were a lot of things to digest and take away from this game for the Jayhawks, but perhaps the most encouraging was the play of Marcus Garrett. Whenever it seemed like Fort Hays State wanted to dictate the game, Garrett answered right back with a three of his own finishing 4-7 from the three point line and 5-10 overall for a total of 15 points being the second leading scorer on the team to Ochai Abaji’s 21.

Devon Dotson and Isaiah Moss missed Thursday’s game both with leg injuries (Dotson with his ankle and Moss with his hamstring)

“Unless something happens tomorrow,” Self said. “He’s in (for Thursday vs. Pitt St.). He practiced full speed on Saturday and Sunday and Monday.”

Another huge moment on Thursday’s not just for Kansas basketball, but the entire fanbase was the long awaited return of Junior Silvio De Sousa. De Sousa was declared ineligible by the NCAA last season after his guardian was given $2,500 plus $25,000 by Nike from TJ Gassnola. He finished last nights with game 11 points and 7 boards, but it left people wondering afterwards how this affects Azuibuke, who was nominated Preseason Big 12 Player Of The Year after he was kept relatively quiet not getting his first points until 5:57 left in the second half to make it 71-46 ending up finishing with 5 points.

Self stated tonight at his press conference that sophomore David McCormack that he would start the game to see how he is used on the floor with Azuibuke.

On October 31st, Halloween night the Jayhawks will finish up exhibition versus the Gorillas of Pittsburgh State who finished 17-13 (9-10 in the MIAA) last season, before they head to Madison Square Garden on November 7th to start the regular season playing the Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic.

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Featured image courtesy of Chance Parker / UDK