In No. 3 Kansas’ 92-74 exhibition victory over Washburn, fans got a first look at the Jayhawks squad favored to win the Big 12 for the 13th consecutive season.
Kansas started Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham, Josh Jackson, Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas, with the first players off the bench being freshman center Udoka Azubuike and sophomore guard Lagerald Vick.
Kansas didn’t have much defensive cohesion in this game, but Bill Self played a lot of underclassmen and many different player combinations, so this likely isn’t indicative of how the Jayhawks will hold up defensively once the season begins.
With that said, the Jayhawks gave up a ton of fast break points (25) and second chances (19 offensive rebounds), with Mason grabbing more rebounds (10) than any KU big man.
The incoming players (Jackson, Azubuike, Lightfoot) seemed to have first-game jitters early on but made an impact in the second half. Jackson didn’t score in the first half but finished with 14 points, and Azubuike showed potential as the first big man off the bench as long as he stays out of foul trouble.
Mason and Graham both looked great, and Kansas clearly has one of the best backcourts in the nation. Mason came one assist shy of a 21-point triple double, and Graham had a couple highlight passes of his own.
The Jayhawks have a logjam at the guard position with Mason, Graham, Jackson, Vick and Mykhailiuk all vying for minutes. Self used a four-guard lineup a lot this game, presumably so he could begin to figure out the rotation against Indiana.
Freshman Josh Jackson looked much more comfortable driving to the rim than taking a jump shot. Both Jackson and Vick’s slashing ability could be huge for Kansas when opposing teams close out hard.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s shot was falling in this game as he went 4/6 from three. Svi could fill in as the deep threat that Brannen Greene was for the Jayhawks last season. Also fighting for guard minutes, Vick looked like one of the most comfortable players on the floor and seems poised to have a breakout season. Those two will likely battle for time as the first guard off the bench for the Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks shot 54% from the field and 45% from three, while only shooting 53% from the free throw line.
Next Game: Final exhibition game vs. Emporia State at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.