It’s safe to say Lagerald Vick’s 32-point scoring outburst against Vermont was no fluke.
Vick, Kansas’ 6-foot-5 senior shooting sensation from Memphis, followed Monday’s career-best performance with a 33-point explosion in the Jayhawks’ 89-76 victory over Louisiana on Friday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Vick, who hit 8 threes in 8 tries on Monday, was 7 of 12 from three on Friday.
Overall, he hit 11 of 18 shots and 4 of 5 free throws en route to back-to-back 30-point outings, a feat last attained at KU by Devonté Graham against Toledo and Syracuse last season.
Vick became the first player in KU history to hit at least seven threes two games in a row.
“We’ve got the hottest player in America right now in Lagerald. He was unbelievable again,” KU coach Bill Self said after KU’s third win in as many tries. Louisiana fell to 1-2.
“He had nine rebounds, played 40 minutes. He’s playing at a level even Frank (Mason) and Devonté didn’t play at consistently right now,” Self added.
Vick scored 18 points the first half, helping the Jayhawks turn a 32-20 deficit into a 44-41 halftime lead.
He had 15 points the final half in helping KU stretch a narrow one-point lead (65-64 at 8:40) to 12 after a 14-3 run in crunch time. The game was close in large part because of Louisiana’s 12 threes in 36 tries; KU hit of 8 of 22.
“We’ve had Frank (Mason) have some unbelievably efficient games, some back-to-back. Devonté had a couple last year,” Self said, “but I don’t think we’ve ever had anybody have a week like this. We needed him (Vick). He’s playing at a ridiculously high level now. The basket is huge for him. He did a good job all the way around.”
Vick credited his teammates for his hot streak.
“They have been finding me for open shots,” Vick said. “I’m just really going out there having fun. It’s my last go-round. I’m leaving it all out there.”
He acknowledged his confidence is at an all-time high.
“Crazy (confidence),” Vick said with a smile, “extreme confidence. The coaches are helping. There’s motivation there, stuff they are telling me: ‘Keep shooting the ball in.’ My teammates are lifting me up.”
Vick smiled when informed he’s the first Jayhawk to cash at lest seven threes in back-to-back contests. Also, he’s one of three Jayhawks to score 32 or more points two games in a season this decade. The others: Ben McLemore and Graham.
“(I’m) proud of myself, just got to keep it going,” Vick said.
Dedric Lawson, who had zero points against Vermont on Monday, scored 19 points and had six rebounds with five turnovers on Friday. He scored his first bucket while actually seated on the floor. A carom of his missed shot fell into his lap and he shot it in.
Udoka Azubuike had 17 points and eight boards with four blocks for Kansas.
No. 2-ranked KU found itself down by 12 points to unranked, mid-major Louisiana midway through the first half.
An uncomfortable position, to be sure, for KU, which lost two points via free throws due to a flagrant foul by Mitch Lightfoot, and two more following a technical foul by Self.
However, the Jayhawks, who were led by Vick’s 18 points led by three at halftime, overcoming 22 points from forward Justin Miller for Louisiana, who coincidentally finished with the same 22 (JaKeenan Gant had 18).
The Jayhawks managed to build their narrow four-point halftime lead to 10 points (61-51) with 13:28 left, thanks to seven points from Vick and six from Lawson. They used that 14-3 surge (Lawson and Azubuike had seven points apiece) to open a significant lead.
KU led 8-3 and 15-8 in the early going.
However Louisiana used a 12-0 run to go up, 32-20, at 9:19.
KU, which had Azubuike on the bench for 15 minutes the first half and Lawson on the bench for 11 minutes because both had picked up two fouls, closed the half on a 24-9 run.
Vick scored 11 of the 24 points in that run, cashing three threes. Quentin Grimes had six points and Marcus Garrett five.
Freshman David McCormack grabbed six rebounds and scored two points in the first half.
Kansas will next play in the four-team NIT Tip Off holiday tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. KU will meet Marquette (2-1) at approximately 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Marquette, ranked No. 24 this week, will play Presbyterian College in a tuneup on Saturday in Wisconsin. No. 5 Tennessee (3-0) and unranked Louisville (2-0 entering Friday game against Vermont) will be the other two teams in the Tip Off.