Kansas looks to snap a three-game losing streak to Pac-12 foes on Thursday as the 13th-ranked Jayhawks conclude non-conference play against Stanford at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The Jayhawks lost back-to-back games to Washington and Arizona State earlier this month and saw last season come to an end with a 14-point loss to Oregon in the Elite Eight.
Junior guard Lagerald Vick has averaged 19.4 points in his last five games for Kansas, which leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage (52.3), assists (20.5), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) and 3-point field goals made (11.2). The stellar Kansas backcourt includes senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk, who broke out of a mini-shooting slump by scoring 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including six 3-pointers, in Monday’s 109-64 victory over Omaha. “He can play off a screen, spot up, drive it,” Omaha coach Derrin Hansen told reporters. “When he gets his feet set, he not only makes them, it’s like, in-the-middle makes them. He’s hard to guard.” The Jayhawks’ thin frontcourt is led by 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike, who has recorded consecutive double-doubles and will be tested by the impressive Stanford duo of Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey.
TV: 11 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT KANSAS (9-2): Coach Bill Self was encouraged in the win over Omaha by the play of sophomore guard Malik Newman, who bounced back from a scoreless outing against Nebraska by scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes. The Jayhawks’ bench received a boost recently with the debut of sophomore guard Sam Cunliffe, a transfer from Arizona State who missed the team’s first nine games but had nine points in 20 minutes against Omaha. Cunliffe could eventually be used to help spell senior guard Devonte’ Graham, who averages 17.0 points while playing a team-high 34.6 minutes per game.
ABOUT STANFORD (6-6): The 6-8, 245-pound Travis matched his career high with 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds in last Sunday’s 71-59 victory over San Francisco as the Cardinal won for the third time in their last four games. “He was a monster,” coach Jerod Haase told reporters. “We were able to free him up some, but a lot of it he does on his own as well. Physically he’s such a presence. He can score in a variety of ways.” Travis is being asked to carry the Stanford offense while starters Marcus Sheffield and Dorian Pickens remain out with foot injuries.
1. Kansas holds a 9-3 lead in the series, including an 89-74 win on Dec. 3, 2016 in Allen Fieldhouse.
2. Haase, who played for Kansas from 1995-97, owns a 100-76 record in six seasons as a head coach at UAB and Stanford.
3. Kansas is averaging 88.6 points and leads the nation in assists per game at 20.5.
PREDICTION: Kansas 93, Stanford 71