Third-ranked Kansas is off to its first 2-0 start since the 2013-14 season thanks in part to Tuesday night’s 65-61 battle of the bluebloods victory over No. 4 Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Chicago. Now comes a potential trap game against Summit League-favorite South Dakota State, which is off to a 3-0 start, on Friday night at famed Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas coach Bill Self said he doesn’t expect a letdown from his squad following Tuesday night’s emotional win. The game kicks off a four-game homstand for the Jayhawks who also will play Texas Southern, Oakland and Toledo before playing Syracuse in the Hoophall Miami Invitational in Florida. “I don’t know I’d be worried about that,” Self told kansascity.com. “We didn’t play great against Kentucky. The media has made that pretty well known. I thought we were pretty darn good. ... I don think there’s a chance that (resting on the Kentucky laurels) could be the case. We’ll convince our guys. We’ll show them enough tape tonight what they *Jackrabbits) are capable of.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (3-0): The Jackrabbits, who lost to Gonzaga 66-46 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament but trailed just 26-22 at halftime, return four starters including 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior Mike Daum, who averaged 21.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in wins over UC Irvine (65-54), College of Mary (78-54) and Alabama State (94-63) while connecting on 8-of-17 3-pouinters (47.1 percent). “I was trying to think who he’s like,” Self said. “I’d say a poor man’s (Larry) Bird. He can really shoot.” Senior swingman Reed Tellinghuisen is a four-year starter who is averaging 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds while junior guard Tevin King is averaging 5.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per outing.
ABOUT KANSAS (2-0): With prize 6-10 freshman recruit Billy Preston on the bench while the school’s compliance office looks into a car accident involving Preston’s car, 7-foot sophomore Udoka Azubuike stole the show with 13 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes, including a handful of timely of offensive rebounds, against Kentucky despite being double and triple-teamed. Five Jayhawks are averaging in double figures led by senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and junior Lagerald Vick who are both averaging 16.0 points per game. Azubuike (13.0) and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (12.0) are next, followed by senior guard Devonte Graham (10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists), the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year.
1. Self said Preston will continue to be held out until the university’s compliance departments gets a “clearer financial picture” specific to the car he was driving in the on-campus incident.
2. Kansas hasn’t started a season 3-0 since 2013-14 when the Jayhawks eventually lost to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
3. Self’s 418 victories at Kansas are tied for second with Roy Williams (1988-2003) and 172 behind all-time winningest coach Dr. F.C. “Phog” Allen who had 590 wins in 39 seasons with the Jayhawks.
PREDICTION: Kansas 81, South Dakota State 74