It had been a while since Svi Mykhailiuk had been a difference-maker in a game for Kansas. His production and minutes had fallen in Big 12 play, and twice in three games before Wednesday’s victory over Kansas State Mykhailiuk didn’t get off the bench.
His explanation: Mykhailiuk had been coming in third in a competition with teammates Brannen Greene and Lagerald Vick in game performance.
“I would say that Lagerald and Brannen were pretty good,” Mykhailiuk said. “They played pretty good in games. There was no need to put me in.”
Against the Wildcats there was a need — and likely will be in Saturday’s game at TCU that tips at 11 a.m. — and Mykhailiuk responded by filling up the stat line.
His 10 points were the most in a game since mid-December. His four assists and three steals were career bests for Mykhailiuk, a sophomore guard.
“He was probably the best player we had in the game, when you’re talking about grading it out,” Bill Self said. “He did as many good things as anybody. He’s going to get a chance to play.
“We need him to be good, give us offense off the bench.”
Against the Wildcats, Mykhailiuk showed a variety on offense, a spin move to the basket, a three-pointer and another drive when he took advantage of a Landen Lucas screen.
“I was trying to be aggressive,” Mykhailiuk said.
He got 21 minutes because of recent practice performance, Self said, and Mykhailiuk could see more time with Greene’s likely demotion in the playing rotation after Wednesday’s last-second dunk that drew the ire of Self.
Wednesday’s effort suggests the 6-foot-8 native of Ukraine is ready to handle more game-day responsibility. More playing time could bring about an improved stroke from beyond the arc.
Mykhailiuk is considered one of the team’s top shooters but is hitting only 32.3 percent on his threes for a team that hits 43 percent, which is the nation’s third best mark.
Self feels that Mykhailiuk still needs some expereince. Mykhailiuk, although he’s a sophomore, remains the team’s youngest player at age 18, and this feels more like a rookie season.
“He’s a freshman right now,” Self said. “He’s halfway through his freshman season. Last year, we expected too much too soon. We put him out there and he lost his confidence.
“He’s been laboring for a while, but the last four or five days he’s shot the heck out of the ball and looked more confident out there.”