Kansas’ basketball players swarmed Lagerald Vick in a jubilant winner’s locker room after the senior guard’s career-high 32-point performance carried the Jayhawks to an 84-68 victory over Vermont on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
“We were all pumping him up, like, ‘Man, you’re probably the best shooter in Kansas history, going 8-for-8.’ Just little things like that. We did give him a hard time for sure,” KU freshman guard Quentin Grimes said after his own, 10-point, 10-assist outing.
“That was pretty special out there tonight,” Grimes added of Vick’s effort, which paced the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (2-0) to their 46th consecutive home-opening win.
Memphis native Vick put on quite a show after scoring just two points in the Jayhawks’ 92-87 season-opening victory over Michigan State last Tuesday at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard hit 12 of 14 shots versus the Catamounts (1-1), preseason pick to win the America East Conference. As Grimes stated, Vick went 8-of-8 from beyond the arc, for most threes without a miss in a game in KU history. Ben McLemore hit six threes in as many tries against Iowa State on Jan. 9, 2013. Also, in 1993, Rex Walters was 6-of-6 against Ball State.
“He was great. I tried to remember … I don’t think I’ve coached a better offensive performance ever,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He missed a 3-foot jump hook — a great shot — and a dipsy-do layup. Other than that, he’s 12-for-12. He made eight threes and had two twos with his foot on the (three-point) line. He would have had 10 threes. He was fabulous,” Self added. “I mean he was great.”
Vick said he put in some extra shooting in the gym since opening the season with a 1-of-7 shooting (0-for-4 from three) performance versus the Spartans.
“I had an off night,” Vick said of the MSU contest. “I didn’t sit back on that game. I came out ready to play.”
He said his teammates provided inspiration.
“It was confidence, coach and the team giving me words before the game,” Vick said, “going out there and really just playing for the team, just shooting the ball.”
Vick scored 16 points and Udoka Azubuike (23 points, 11 rebounds) 12 points the first half in helping the Jayhawks to a hard-earned, 40-36, lead at the break. Azubuike was 6-of-10 shooting in the half with six rebounds. Vick was 6-of-7 shooting and 4-of-4 from three.
Vick also scored 11 points in a 15-5 run that gave KU a 59-45 lead with 10:59 remaining.
“I mean he was great,” Self said of Vick. “Doke obviously was the main player in certain stretches. Those two carried us tonight. That’s a good team we played. We were down eight (16-8 and 26-18). It felt like it would have been 12 or 14 (point deficit) if Lagerald hadn’t been on our team.”
Anthony Lamb scored 24 points and Ernie Duncan 17 for a Vermont team that exactly one year ago lost to Kentucky by just four points at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Meanwhile, KU junior Dedric Lawson did not score in 19 minutes. He missed six shots, while grabbing seven rebounds. He had two assists against three turnovers.
“He didn’t have a great first game against Michigan State,” Self said of Vick. “Everybody is going to have games like that. We saw Doke in the first exhibition (not playing well then bouncing back). We saw Dedric tonight. We’ll see how he responds. That was obviously a rough night.
“We’ll find out with Dedric. Guys get comfortable. He was unathletic tonight. He wasn’t engaged. They blocked everything (he shot). Lamb had his way. Hopefully that’s good for us over time.”
Meanwhile, Vick’s eight threes tied for second most by a Jayhawk in a single game.
Mario Chalmers had eight against Texas on March 16, 2008 and Billy Thomas eight versus Texas on Jan. 10, 1998. Terry Brown hit a school-record 11 threes against North Carolina State in 1991.
“Just really, it’s senior year, so you’ve got to go out with a bang,” Vick said.
He said he didn’t know anything about KU’s three-point accuracy record until he was informed in the locker room after the contest.
“I honestly didn’t,” Vick said. “Teammates and coaches were just telling me to let it go.”
Vick had two dunks to go with his outside bombs. Azubuike had eight dunks on a night he hit 10 of 17 shots.
Vermont, which hit 6 of 15 threes in the half (9 of 26 for game) to KU’s 5 of 10 (12 of 19 overall), trailed 40-36 at the break.
Lamb had 12 points. Stef Smith 11 and Duncan 10 in the half. Grimes had five assists in the first 20 minutes for KU.
Vick hit a pair of three-pointers and the Jayhawks led, 6-0, less than a minute into the game. However, Vermont used a 16-2 run to grab a 16-8 lead at 16:02. Duncan scored eight points and Smith six in the run.
Down 18-10, KU used a 7-0 run to cut the gap to a point at 12:21. Vick had five points and Marcus Garrett two in that surge.
However, Vermont’s 8-1 answer gave the Catamounts a 26-18 lead at 9:26. KU used a 13-4 run to finally regain the lead, 31-30, at 4:11 Azubuike scored six points and Vick five in the run.
Vermont led, 36-33, with 2:11 left in the half. However, KU closed on a 7-0 run to grab its four-point lead at intermission. Azubuike had an inside bucket, Grimes a three and a bucket at :31. Charlie Moore’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer barely missed but KU was up, 40-36.
The Jayhawks used a 15-5 run to stretch a 44-40 lead to 59-45 at 10:59. KU led by as many as 18 points.
KU will next meet Louisiana on Friday night in the second and final preliminary-round game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Tip is 7 p.m., at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks will meet Marquette in an NIT Tip-off semifinal at 6 p.m., Central time, Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
David McCormack did not play. Self said it was a coach’s decision regarding matchups. … KU’s Dedric Lawson was named Big 12 player of the week and Quentin Grimes newcomer of the week Monday in a vote of media members who cover the conference. Lawson scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in KU’s 92-87 win over Michigan State at the Champions Classic. Grimes scored 21 points in the victory in Indianapolis.