Kansas shooting guard Lagerald Vick admits his 17-point performance against TCU came at a pivotal juncture of his sophomore season.
“Definitely,” said Vick, KU’s 6-foot-5, 175-pound sixth-man candidate from Memphis, when asked if he felt he needed a breakout game Friday night in 6,700-seat Schollmaier Arena, which appeared to be half full of KU fans and half full of Horned Frogs fans for the Jayhawks’ 86-80 victory.
“It will just help me get another rhythm going for the rest of the season,” Vick said. He had scored 29 points total the previous five games after a career-high 23-point outing against Long Beach State on Nov. 29.
Vick hit 5 of 11 shots (including 3 of 6 threes) and made four free throws without a miss in the conference opener for both teams.
“My stroke from behind the arc,” Vick said, asked to identify a personal bright spot. “Frank (Mason) and Devonté (Graham) getting inside the paint, seeing me open and me knocking down threes.”
KU coach Bill Self was encouraged by the performance of Vick, who had to play some at the 4-spot with freshman Josh Jackson in foul trouble. Vick grabbed two rebounds and had a block in 34 minutes. Jackson scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting in 12 minutes.
“He (Vick) has been laboring a bit. I think he was due,” Self said, noting Vick may have had some extra motivation.
“Their point guard … (Jaylen) Fisher and he are friends. They played on Team Thad (AAU) together. I think they both looked forward to playing against the other one.”
Vick conceded he did enjoy battling Fisher, an Arlington, Tenn., native who scored four points on 1-of-5 shooting with nine assists against five turnovers in 38 minutes.
“I said, ‘What’s up?’ a couple plays,” Vick said, noting there was “not too much (trash talking at all). It felt good out there. We got the win, but the effort of TCU … I don’t know how to explain it. It was a pretty good game. It definitely felt good.”
TCU coach Jamie Dixon felt KU’s Vick was a difference maker on Friday night.
“The great thing about Kansas is Vick comes off the bench and really hurts us. That was something we obviously didn’t plan for,” Dixon said. “He’s had some big games. We know that. His production — 17 points in 34 minutes — was huge. That was big. Jackson (Josh, four points, 12 minutes) being in foul trouble allowed Vick to get some stuff going. That was huge for them.”
Vick applauded the play of senior forward Landen Lucas, who grabbed a career high 17 rebounds and scored 15 points — one point off a career-best mark.
“He rebounded the ball well, finished around the rim well too,” Vick said of the 6-10 Lucas, who hit 7 of 9 shots. “He stepped up when we needed him.”
Vick said the Jayhawks must improve defensively entering Tuesday’s game against Kansas State, set for an 8 p.m., tip in Allen Fieldhouse.
TCU hit 7 of 18 threes and 44.3 percent of its shots overall en route to 80 points.
“They ran a pick and roll offense. We work on it at practice. We had a couple breakdowns,” Vick said. “We can be way better defensively, especially (with) our athletic ability. We had mental breakdowns. They can be fixed.”
TCU junior forward Vlad Brodziansky burned KU for a career-best 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. He hit 10 of 11 free throws.
“It’s their action that’s tough,” Lucas said. “He’s a good player. They did a lot of ball screen action that was real tough for us to guard. It’s definitely something I’m sure we’ll work on at practice a lot. They executed their offense very well. He did a good job in the offense getting those shots.”
Of the 6-11, 220-pound Brodziansky, Self said: “He can shoot. He’s a great free throw shooter. He’s long. He can score over his left shoulder with a jump hook. He’s not a true low post-up player. Physically he is not that big. What they do is create situations where the big man has to help a lot. When they feed him, a lot of times he’s scoring with angles or scoring over guards. They utilize him perfectly. He is effective in what they do.”
Dixon likes his team
First-year TCU coach Dixon, who was head coach at Pitt the past 13 seasons, said the Horned Frogs went into the game quite confident at 11-1.
“The fans have to be excited about this team. They should be. This is a good team,” Dixon said. His Frogs play host to Oklahoma on Tuesday night. “We lost to a good team. We expected to win. I thought we should have won. They took care of it. They made their free throws (20 of 25 to TCU’s 19 of 25). We need to have a great home court come Tuesday. That stuff matters. We are building something here. We’ve got the players to do it.”