No. 10 Kansas is now down one of its two point guards.
Freshman guard Devonte’ Graham suffered a sprained right big toe — an injury commonly referred to as “turf toe” — during Kansas’ victory at Georgetown, when 350-pound center Josh Smith stepped on his foot. The injury, according to Kansas coach Bill Self, will keep Graham sidelined for at least a month, but he could be out even longer.
“The doctors feel like he can come back,” Self said Saturday, after Kansas’ 63-60 victory over Utah. “But they also say he may not come back. So we’ll have to make a decision before the first half of the season is probably over, so we can obviously utilize a medical redshirt if we have to, but we’re not thinking like that.”
Self said the injury was similar to one suffered by former Duke guard Kyrie Irving, who underwent surgery in early December before returning for the NCAA Tournament. Graham’s injury is not expected to require surgery, Self said, but the doctors will monitor how quickly it heals.
Graham was averaging 5.9 points while playing 14.9 minutes per game, but his primary value is tied into his ability to handle the ball. After the transfer of sophomore guard Conner Frankamp during the preseason, the Jayhawks were left with just two true point guards — Graham and sophomore Frank Mason — on the roster.
Self said sophomore Wayne Selden will be called on to handle the ball more, while walk-on Evan Manning could be used in emergency situations.
“It’s unfortunate,” Self said, “because I think he was really coming and starting to get it.”
▪ Junior forward Jamari Traylor, who missed one game after being arrested on suspicion of interfering with the duties of a police officer, returned with his best performance of the season. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds and made all five of his free-throw attempts.
“It’s never good when you’re in that position,” Traylor said of his suspension. “I made a mistake, so I just wanted to come out and do better this time around and this game. I wanted to impact the game.”
▪ Freshman wing Kelly Oubre also continued his upward trend, finishing with nine points while playing a career-high 17 minutes. He also made his only three-point attempt. After playing sparingly in November, Oubre has averaged 8.0 points in 16.5 minutes per game during the Jayhawks’ last two games. He could be called upon to play even more while freshman Devonte’ Graham sits because of a toe injury.
“He’s going to be really good,” Self said. “You can see it; it just hasn’t quite gotten there yet. I think these last two games have done wonders for his confidence.”
▪ The Jayhawks improved to 25-5 at the Sprint Center, which announced a crowd of 17,627 on Saturday. The building holds 18,756. Kansas is also 210-79 all-time in Kansas City.