Udoka Azubuike has thrown down his fair share of dunks at Kansas, obviously.
It was the senior center’s role as facilitator Wednesday, however, that seemed to astonish his head coach.
“Doke, how about Doke passing out of the traps today? I mean, he threw David (McCormack) two lobs. Lobs! Unbelievable,” said Bill Self, speaking in a radio interview after the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks’ 79-53 victory over Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. “The guys did well.”
Truthfully, Azubuike was just one in a litany of contributors against the Cyclones.
But the 7-footer is as good a place to start as anywhere.
Azubuike scored 10 points and brought in seven rebounds in the outcome, also collecting a pair of assists on dishes to his fellow frontcourt starter McCormack. The Delta, Nigeria, native collected an offensive rebound and found McCormack for a second-chance dunk shortly after tipoff, then connected with the sophomore forward again in the opening minutes of the second half.
And then there’s this: A career 39.9% shooter from the free-throw line, Azubuike hit 4 of 5 against the Cyclones, including three in the final minute of the opening period that capped a 21-3 run for the Jayhawks (12-2, 2-0 Big 12) and established a 20-point lead at the intermission.
Azubuike’s last two makes came after hard contact knocked him to the hardwood with just 0.2 seconds left before halftime.
Azubuike wasn’t alone assisting in what was arguably KU’s most complete game to date.
Point guard Devon Dotson scored a game-high 20 points with 6 assists and 3 steals, putting together what Self referred to as a “great floor game.”
Christian Braun, a true freshman guard, continued his recent uptick. The 6-6, 205-pound Burlington native entered the game after junior Marcus Garrett briefly exited with an ankle injury midway through the first half, and KU didn’t miss a beat — Braun hit a pair of 3s in the Jayhawks’ 21-3 run, including an answer make following a Zion Griffin trey that had cut the deficit to 11.
A showdown with the No. 4-ranked Bears (12-1, 2-0) indeed awaits the Jayhawks at noon Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Despite Wednesday’s lopsided final score, at least one player believes KU enters that high-stakes showdown on the heels of a mixed-bag performance.