University of Kansas

Jayhawks down Wofford on night Udoka Azubuike leaves game with ankle sprain

On a night Udoka Azubuike suffered a right ankle sprain that will keep him out indefinitely, Kansas’ No. 2-ranked basketball team managed a 72-47 victory over unranked Wofford on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

“The concern is Udoka, his health. He sprained it pretty good,” KU coach Bill Self said after the game, KU’s seventh victory in as many tries. “X-rays are negative. But he’ll be out. When I say ‘out,’ not ‘day to day.’ It’ll be a while. Hopefully we’ll have him back healthy before Christmas. We don’t know that to be the case. We’ll have to wait and see, see how the swelling goes.

“He was hurting. It’s a legitimate very serious ankle sprain,” Self added.

Azubuike, who grabbed four rebounds in four minutes played during the first half, went down under the defensive goal with 11:38 remaining and KU up, 13-12. He fell on the ankle after trying to block the shot of Nathan Hoover, who scored on the play.

Seven-footer Azubuike was helped off the court to the locker room, putting no weight on his right foot or leg as he exited. Self said initially he was told it was a “high ankle sprain,” but after the game removed that “high ankle” designation. It’s merely a severe sprain in which “he rolled it pretty good,” Self said.

Meanwhile, KU received virtually no production from senior guard Lagerald Vick. Taken out of the starting lineup as a penalty for being late for shootaround Tuesday, he scored zero points on 0-for-3 shooting in 22 minutes. He had no points, two turnovers and a steal the first half as KU managed a 29-26 lead at the break.

Marcus Garrett started and responded with seven points and seven boards.

Self said after the game Garrett would start the next game (Saturday against New Mexico State, 7:30 p.m., Sprint Center) in place of Azubuike.

He also said Vick would return to the starting lineup for Saturday’s contest.

“I think he was pleased he was going to play,” Self said of Vick. When told of his penalty, the shooting guard initially figured Self might bench him the entire contest for being tardy. “I didn’t make a big deal out of it,” Self added.

“He’s been great. But late to shootaround? No message (given him), except, ‘We’ll see how you react.’ I think it’s a pretty good lesson. He’d been on a roll. We went on a little run (second half) with him on the bench. His attitude was terrific (Tuesday). He was a good teammate. He’ll start the next game, just so you know.”

It was Dedric Lawson who led KU in scoring on this occasion, finishing with 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds. Devon Dotson contributed 16 points and Quentin Grimes 14.

Wofford fell to 6-3.

Wofford, a team that beat South Carolina by 20 points on Nov. 26 and fell by just 11 points to North Carolina on Nov. 6 and 11 to Oklahoma on Nov. 18, was led by the 15-point, 10-rebound outing of Cameron Jackson. Sharpshooter Fletcher Magee scored just seven points on 1-of-14 shooting. He was 0-for-9 from three on a night Wofford hit 5 of 26 threes and 26.2 percent overall. KU hit 3 of 23 threes but 49 percent overall.

KU used an 27-0 run to turn a 43-41 lead into a 70-41 advantage at the 4 minute mark. Grimes had 10 points in the run, while four other Jayhawks scored, too. KU also used an 11-0 run to turn a 32-29 deficit into a 40-32 lead at 14:51. Dotson had five and Lawson four in that run.

Wofford defeated North Carolina a year ago and in the 17-year Mike Young era has downed Auburn, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Wake Forest.

McCormack’s future

In addressing the team’s immediate future without Azubuike, KU coach Self said though sophomore guard Garrett will start at the 4 spot, freshman David McCormack (six points, three boards, five minutes), “is going to get a chance to play. I told him in the locker room his role will totally change now. He’s going to have to guard a heavy guy. I don’t know how many teams will have a heavy guy between now and when he Doke comes back.”

Grimes busts slump

Freshman guard Quentin Grimes busted a slump by scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He had three boards in 32 minutes.

“At one point in the game, I told him, ‘About time,’’’ KU junior Dedric Lawson said of Grimes. “I wanted to see him go out there and play. I saw it in high school. I told him, ‘About time.’”

Grimes noted: “I was thinking the same thing (about time). I just tried to play with a free mind. I think before I was trying to play too perfect. I know if I go out there and play like I can play, things open up for me and my teammates.”

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Gary Bedore

Gary Bedore covers University of Kansas athletics for The Star.