Freshman power forward Cliff Alexander will make the first start of his career on Saturday when No. 10 Kansas plays host to Lafayette at 2 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas coach Bill Self revealed the latest tweak to his starting lineup on Friday afternoon before KU took the practice floor. Sophomore wing Brannen Greene will make his second straight start alongside Frank Mason and Wayne Selden in the backcourt, while Alexander will start with junior Perry Ellis in the frontcourt.
Alexander, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Chicago, is averaging 8.7 points and 6.4 rebounds while playing 19 minutes per game, but Self has thus far elected to bring the former top recruit along slowly, even as his production began to soar in a reserve role.
Alexander, though, averaged just four points and six rebounds in Kansas’ last two games. But the schedule is positioned to soften a bit after a tough stretch in late November and early December.
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The Jayhawks, who carry a seven-game winning streak into Saturday, had a six-day layoff after last week’s victory over Utah at the Sprint Center. Kansas will face Lafayette on Saturday before traveling to face Temple on Monday in Philadelphia. The Jayhawks will finish the non-conference season with home games against Kent State and UNLV.
With reserve point guard Devonte’ Graham expected to miss at least three more weeks because of a sprained right big toe, Kansas coach Bill Self said junior walk-on Evan Manning could become an “emergency, spot minute” point guard if sophomores Frank Mason and Wayne Selden are in foul trouble or injured.
“If Evan could give Frank a couple minutes a half,” Self said, “and he may not have to if Wayne is not in foul trouble or whatnot. But we’ll probably see, without knowing exactly how it works, we’ll probably see fewer minutes with Wayne and Frank in there together, which will allow Wayne to be freshman when Frank is not in.”