Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk can sometimes be an afterthought on a Kansas team which includes the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year (Devonte’ Graham) and the conference’s newcomer of the year selection (Malik Newman), but he’s made opponents pay for that stance in the early going. The second-ranked Jayhawks hope to ride their sharpshooter a bit longer Tuesday when they host Texas Southern.
Mostly a 3-point specialist on last season’s Elite Eight squad, Mykhailiuk has enjoyed a fine start to his senior campaign, averaging team-high marks of 19.7 points and 3.7 3-pointers per game after knocking down five triples en route to a career-high 27 points in Friday’s 98-64 rout of South Dakota State. “He was aggressive, and he showed tonight what we’ve been waiting to see - come out and score a lot of points in bunches. … He’s confident right now,” coach Bill Self told the Kansas City Star. In addition to sending the Jayhawks to their first 3-0 start since 2013-14, Self (419-88) moved past Roy Williams (418-101) and into second place on the school’s all-time wins list. The Tigers are coming off an 80-67 loss at Syracuse - the fourth of 13 straight road games during its non-conference schedule which features three ranked teams and leads into their Southwestern Athletic Conference home opener on New Year’s Day.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3
ABOUT TEXAS SOUTHERN (0-4): All five starters reached double figures against Syracuse, but 5-7 playmaker Demontrae Jefferson (team-high 21 points per game) was held out for a second straight game due to an indefinite suspension, although he is reportedly accompanying the team to Lawrence. Donte Clark (18 points and eight rebounds per game) finished with 20 points against the Orange to lead five starters in double figures and has already attempted 28 free throws (making 21), which accounts for 35.9 percent of the team’s total. Auburn transfer Trayvon Reed (11.0, 9.3), who last played in 2014-15 - has collected at least seven rebounds in every game and is the only player in the SWAC averaging more boards than Clark.
ABOUT KANSAS (3-0): Highly regarded 6-10 freshman Billy Preston has yet to play this season and remains out indefinitely as administrators and the university’s compliance department attempt to wrap an investigation regarding the vehicle he was driving during a single-car accident on Nov. 11. Lagerald Vick (18 points and six rebounds per game) is shooting 56.8 percent from the field and has topped 20 points in two of his three outings thus far. Udoka Azubuike (14.3 points) tied a career high with 17 points Friday and has misfired on only two of his 21 field-goal attempts through three games; the sophomore center is being forced into 29 minutes per game as Preston’s status has left the Jayhawks short in the frontcourt.
1. This game is the first of three on-campus games for Kansas as part of the HoopHall Miami Invitiational, which will conclude with a showdown against Syracuse on Dec. 2.
2. Entering Monday’s action, SWAC teams have a combined record of 1-37.
3. The Jayhawks collected only two offensive rebounds Friday - their fewest in a game since 1993.
PREDICTION: Kansas 95, Texas Southern 65