After the left-handed layup went in — and after Dream Team Italy called a timeout — the public-address announcer at ParaSport gym said aloud what nearly everyone was thinking.
Kansas guard Malik Newman had 25 points in 16 minutes, 4 seconds of game time, a feat so impressive that the broadcaster updated everyone before adding commentary.
“It’s crazy,” he said.
Newman would only gain more Italian admirers as the night went on.
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After scoring 32 points on 13-for-17 shooting in KU’s 118-74 victory over Dream Team Italy on Sunday, the sophomore guard arrived at the team bus greeted by children chanting his name: “New-man! New-man!”
“He was on fire,” teammate Devonté Graham said.
That certainly was the case early. Newman’s 25 first-half points came on 10-for-12 shooting, which included six three-pointers.
“The basket just opened,” Newman said. “Teammates found me early and got me going, and I just got rolling from there.”
Newman’s most impressive highlight, though, came in the second half. After ducking his head to drive right on David Reati, Newman stopped and crossed over behind his right leg, rising up for a step-back three-pointer that brought teammates on the bench to their feet.
“I saw him in a sprint, so I just put the brakes on and he went flying,” Newman said. “I had to shoot it. I had to.”
Though KU coach Bill Self believes Newman can still become a better all-round player, he was as impressed as anyone with the scoring display.
“Malik isn’t a good shooter; I think he’s a really, really good shooter,” Self said.
Newman earned MVP honors on a night when KU was forced to play with a limited roster. The Jayhawks were without forward Billy Preston, who was held out because of a sore knee that lingered from a previous injury suffered in practice. Center Udoka Azubuike also sat for a second straight game, with Self saying afterward, “He doesn’t feel worth a flip.”
That meant only one scholarship player — sophomore Mitch Lightfoot — went through big-man warm-up drills before Sunday’s contest.
The Jayhawks weren’t affected much because of their guard play. Svi Mykhailiuk added 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting, Lagerald Vick contributed 20 and Graham posted 10 assists and seven steals.
“Considering how small we were, I thought we actually played pretty good for the most part,” Self said. “Those four guards are pretty good.”
KU, which completed its Italy exhibition tour with a 4-0 record, will celebrate its final full day in Italy with a Lake Como boat tour Monday. The Jayhawks are scheduled to depart Milan for the United States on Tuesday morning.