Kansas basketball coach Bill Self encouraged Lagerald Vick to put up some big numbers against Baylor on the senior guard’s special day.
“Coach told him to make seven (threes) in the first half for his birthday,” KU junior forward Dedric Lawson said after the Jayhawks’ 73-68 victory over the Bears on Saturday afternoon at Ferrell Center.
“I told him to come out shooting. Shoot!”
Vick made three threes the first half and three more in the second, scored 18 points and registered his 1,000th career point as a Kansas Jayhawk in what definitely classified as a happy 22nd birthday for the 6-foot-5 Memphis native.
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It turned out KU needed each of those threes as the No. 7-ranked Jayhawks (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) saw a 23-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes left actually dip to four with 26 seconds to play, KU ultimately hanging on to beat the Bears (9-6, 1-2).
“I told him to make seven in the first half,” Self acknowledged with a smile after the game. “I said, ‘Everybody is saying it’s about you. It’s your birthday. Why don’t you do something for me? Make seven.’ He did his part. He played pretty well.”
Vick scored nine points the first half in helping KU to an early 18-2 lead and 35-25 halftime advantage. His sixth point gave him 1,000 points for his four-year KU career. He’s now the 61st KU player and the 16th in the 16-year Self era to hit the 1,000 mark.
“It feels great,” the soft-spoken Vick said of reaching the 1,000 mark. “More to come. Stay humble.”
Self praised Vick for hitting the milestone.
“I would think that would be kind of a measuring stick for a really good career. If you can score 1,000 points you are a good college player. He’s obviously a good college player. I’m happy for him,” Self said.
Vick hit 6 of 10 shots and was 6 of 8 from three. As a team, KU hit 9 of 16 threes to Baylor’s 9 of 31.
“He made a couple hard shots at the end of the clock, played really well,” Self said. “He didn’t play like a senior down the stretch but I thought he was pretty good today.”
Self said just one Jayhawk played well the last few minutes as KU’s 23-point lead evaporated. Freshman Ochai Agbaji, who scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting with three rebounds in 21 minutes.
“I thought Ochai was great again. He’s becoming one of our best players,” Self said of the Oak Park High graduate who has played in two games after sitting out the first 14 as an early redshirt candidate.
“He is poised. He made a couple athletic plays, kept some balls alive, certainly shot it pretty well. He probably had as much poise as anybody down the stretch in a very very small pool of players that did.”
KU won despite being outrebounded, 49-30. This is by a Baylor team that found out before the game it would be without sophomore forward Tristan Clark for the rest of the season. He has a knee injury that will require surgery.
“They kicked our butts on the glass 36 minutes and destroyed us the last four,” Self said. “We were soft. We got punked on the glass.”
KU, did, however, do some good things in staying a game behind Texas Tech (4-0) in the league race. Two-loss teams now include Baylor, Iowa State, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. West Virginia is 0-4.
The Jayhawks held Baylor without a field goal until the 9:34 mark of the first half. The Bears started the game 0-15 from the field.
“I’d like to think our defense was good,” Self said. “They helped us some, too. They shot it poor early. Our defense was good. Then the law of percentages played out after that.”
Dedric Lawson contributed 17 points, five blocks and five steals but grabbed just three rebounds while Devon Dotson had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Jared Butler scored 14, Makai Mason 11, Mark Vital 10 and Devonte Bandoo nine for Baylor. King McClure had 10 rebounds from the guard position and Vital nine.
KU’s Mitch Lightfoot, who had two boards in three minutes, made contact with Mason in the second half and sustained a cut on his lip that required what Self called “seven or eight” stitches to close.
“It cut all the way through (lip). He’ll be very tender for a while,” Self said.
Marcus Garrett went down on the defensive end after bumping knees with another player in the first half. He left the game for a brief period, returned and finished with four points and four assists in 25 minutes.
“He just hit it (knee). Nothing significant (as far as injury),” Self said.
The Jayhawks will next meet Texas at 8 p.m. Monday in Allen Fieldhouse.