Lagerald Vick snaps out of funk, scores 16 for KU in 83-77 win at Iowa State

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas junior guard Lagerald Vick celebrated his return to the starting lineup by busting out of an ugly slump against Iowa State on Tuesday night at Hilton Coliseum.

Vick, a regular starter who was relegated to backup duty the last two games in response to a stretch in which he’d hit just six of 30 three-pointers, erupted for 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting — including 4-of-7 from three — in No. 13 Kansas’ 83-77 victory over the Cyclones.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” said Vick, a soft-spoken 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Memphis, when asked by a media member if he “was back.”

“I don’t feel like I ever left,” he quickly added after helping KU (20-6, 9-4) remain a game behind Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings. The Red Raiders improved to 10-3 by beating Oklahoma on Tuesday.

Vick had two of the biggest shots of the game, stroking back-to-back threes to stretch a 39-36 KU lead to nine points just 2  12 minutes into the final half. KU led by as many as 13 points before seeing that lead dip to three late in the contest because of poor free-throw shooting.

“I was playing off my teammates,” Vick said of his busting open for threes. “They were getting in the lane, finding me, so I was able to make shots. I’ve been trying to be more aggressive, trying to get back focus, doing the small things to get in rhythm.”

Vick had his best scoring game since his 21-point outing in the Big 12 opener at Texas. He had scored no more than 11 points in a league contest since that Dec. 29 game.

“Mainly my coaches and teammates (have been) encouraging me to go harder, just leaving everything out there,” Vick said.

KU coach Bill Self, who has been displeased with Vick’s effort in a slump that included two KU losses in the past three games, was satisfied with his effort Tuesday.

“He’s been better,” Self said of Vick. “If you have studied our team, when we’ve played our best, our five best players have been playing well. We need to get our five best players playing well.

“I thought we played some of our best ball when Marcus was in there as well,” Self added of Marcus Garrett, who scored three points in 19 minutes.

All five KU starters finished with double-figure points.

Center Udoka Azubuike scored 19 points with three rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes. Malik Newman, who scored 27 points in a win over Iowa State earlier this season in Lawrence, had 17 points with six rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes. Vick had four rebounds and two assists to go with his 16 points in 29 minutes. Svi Mykhailiuk, who had three points combined the last two games, scored 10 points while going 2 of 6 from three. Devonté Graham, who was filmed hitting a halfcourt shot at the shootaround and dancing the moonwalk earlier in the day, missed 13 of 16 shots in the game and scored 13 points with six rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes.

“His attitude has always been good,” Newman said of Vick. “The last week or so it’s been outstanding. It’s a credit to him for not letting that little slump interfere with his attitude. He came out with a sense of urgency and aggressiveness.”

Another key to victory was the play of Azubuike, who hit 9 of 10 shots. Self left him in the game after he picked up his third foul just 21 seconds into the final half. KU had led 39-34 at the break.

“I thought he was going to take me out. He kept me in the game. He trusted me,” Azubuike said. “He told me, ‘You are going to have to play with your head and feet.’ It’s what I did.”

Self said: “You saw how much better we are with him in the game. We can play through him in the post. He, Malik and Lagerald carried us offensively.”

Seldom-used big man Silvio De Sousa entered with 2:44 left in the first half and KU leading 31-28 after Mitch Lightfoot joined Azubuike on the bench with two fouls. De Sousa tipped in his own miss — Iowa State fans thought he walked before scoring — and hit a free throw, while Newman had three points in the half-ending 6-2 run.

“He had three rebounds in 3 minutes and got a tip to go in,” Self said of De Sousa, who did not play in the final half and finished with three points and three rebounds in 3 minutes. “He hasn’t had anything go right in what seems to be quite some time. That was very positive. Hopefully he can get some confidence and we can use him some more down the stretch.”

The only negative on this night was KU’s play during crunch time.

KU led 76-63 with 4:49 to play. Iowa State trimmed the margin to eight at 1:59 (78-70) and six at 1:17 (78-72). The Cyclones had a chance to cut it to three but Lindell Wigginton, who scored 12 points, missed a three with 27.3 seconds left. Graham missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Iowa State’s Zoran Talley — who had 15 points — scored, but missed a free throw with 21.6 seconds left and KU maintained a 81-77 lead.

Graham returned to the line at 18.8 seconds and hit one free throw to make it 82-77. Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson air-balled a three that could have made it a one-possession game. KU rebounded, and the game effectively was over with 6.7 seconds left.

KU missed four of six free throws in the last 38 seconds.

“I didn’t expect us to probably play like we’ve never been coached a day this year for sure,” Self said. “I didn’t expect Devonté to miss three of four and one of them a front-end. Lagerald is a good free-throw shooter and missed a front end (with 38 seconds left and KU up six). It wasn’t we turned it over, we just didn’t make our free throws.”

KU hit 48.4 percent of its shots, including 9 of 26 threes, and 14 of 21 free throws. Iowa State hit 49.2 percent of its shots, including 3 of 16 threes, and 16 of 22 free throws.

KU will next meet West Virginia at 5 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

No. 13 Kansas 83, Iowa State 77

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Azubuike

22

9-10

1-1

3

0

4

19

Graham

40

3-16

6-9

5

5

1

13

Mykhailiuk

36

3-10

2-2

1

2

3

10

Newman

34

6-10

3-4

6

4

5

17

Vick

29

6-10

0-1

5

2

3

16

Garrett

20

1-3

1-2

1

1

1

3

Lightfoot

15

1-1

0-0

2

0

3

2

De Sousa

3

1-2

1-2

3

0

0

3

Cunliffe

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

30-62

14-21

26

14

20

83

Percentages: FG .484, FT .667. Three-Point Goals: 9-25, .360 (Vick 4-7, Mykhailiuk 2-5, Newman 2-5, Graham 1-7, Garrett 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 4 (Azubuike 3, Lightfoot). Turnovers: 7 (Mykhailiuk 2, Newman 2, Azubuike, Garrett, Vick). Steals: 5 (Lightfoot 2, Garrett, Mykhailiuk, Newman). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: Newman.

Iowa State

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Lard

37

7-11

5-6

11

2

3

19

Talley

36

7-11

0-1

2

0

1

15

S.Young

25

5-7

2-2

7

1

2

12

Jackson

35

1-9

0-1

4

3

4

3

Wigginton

35

3-12

5-5

2

5

5

12

Weiler-Babb

22

5-7

4-7

8

5

2

14

Beverly

7

1-1

0-0

1

0

1

2

Long

3

0-1

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

29-59

16-22

35

16

18

77

Percentages: FG .492, FT .727. Three-Point Goals: 3-16, .188 (Talley 1-2, Jackson 1-6, Wigginton 1-7, Long 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 4 (Lard 2, Wigginton 2). Turnovers: 12 (Lard 5, Wigginton 5, S.Young, Talley). Steals: 2 (Lard, Talley). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: Wigginton.

Half: Kansas 39-34. Att: 14,384.


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