Lagerald Vick’s big night can’t keep Jayhawks unbeaten

Huskies knock off No. 2 KU in K.C.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) puts up a shot in the paint during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 at Sprint Center.

Kansas City, Mo. — A career night from Kansas junior wing Lagerald Vick couldn’t keep the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks undefeated.

Washington almost dared Vick to take over at times, and he responded by scoring a personal-best 28 points on 12-for-23 shooting. However, the Huskies held most of his teammates in check, enabling them to knock off KU, 74-65, Wednesday night at Sprint Center.

After back-to-back 35-point games from senior guard Devonte’ Graham leading up to the Jayhawk Shootout, Washington limited KU’s veteran leader to just three points on 1-for-8 shooting.

Only sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, joined Vick in double figures for KU (7-1).

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: Washington (7-2) re-discovered its edge late in the second half. The Huskies played with confidence most of the night, for certain. But for a stretch after halftime the Jayhawks began matching them and igniting the mostly dormant crowd as a result.

But after KU trimmed the UW lead to one with an Azubuike jam with 9:45 to play, the men in black and purple re-gained their footing and a little swagger, as well.

Matisse Thybulle (19 points, 5-for-8 on 3-pointers) often led Washington in that category, and that was the case when the Huskies really needed a lift.

Thybulle’s 3-pointer with 8:03 left set off a stretch during which Washington out-scored the Jayhawks 12-4. His steal and emphatic break-away jam in transition pushed the UW lead back to double digits and helped his team believe this was their night.

• Offensive highlight: Vick remained assertive with the ball in his hands against the Washington zone throughout, whether by driving or passing or scoring in the middle of the defense.

But none of the junior wing’s career-high 12 field goals looked as fierce as a two-handed jam in the second half.

On a particular touch in the paint, Vick caught an entry pass from Svi Mykhailiuk at the left elbow, turned and attacked.

Vick sliced through two would-be Washington defenders, took one power dribble, and took off for a violent jam.?

• Defensive highlight: This one goes to the sophomore big man from Nigeria.

Though Azubuike didn’t have nearly as significant of an impact defensively as his head coach Bill Self would’ve liked, the 7-footer took a more active approach trying to protect the rim in the second half.

After being a no-show help-wise on a Thybulle drive and jam, Azubuike at least responded to his coach’s displeasure after that, trying to use his size as a deterrent and blocking a shot.

It wasn’t much, but KU’s defense didn’t exactly thrive in Kansas City.

• Key stat: Easy looks. It was the Huskies’ high-percentage chances against Kansas throughout the first half that challenged the heavily-favored Jayhawks and set a tone.

With six offensive rebounds in the opening 20 minutes — four courtesy of Noah Dickerson — Washington scored 10 second-chance points. UW also cashed in on some KU offensive mistakes, too, turning five turnovers into eight points before halftime.

What’s more, with both Azubuike (seven first-half minutes) and Mitch Lightfoot (five minutes) picking up two fouls apiece early, Washington had an even easier time finding avenues to the rim. While Kansas thrived offensively in the paint in the first half, scoring 22 inside, Washington was able to keep pace getting 18 in the restricted area — another factor in UW taking a 36-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will be back in Allen Fieldhouse to take on another Pac-12 foe — and most likely an even more challenging one — in No. 16 Arizona State (7-0). Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, on ESPN.

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