The following is a breakdown of each Kansas scholarship player from the team’s 118-74 victory Sunday night over Dream Team Italy.
Malik Newman: The guy is an amazing shooter. His 32 points on 13-for-17 accuracy didn’t necessarily come from easy attempts, as many of his makes were off the dribble or in the midrange. KU coach Bill Self still wants to see more out of Newman defensively, but on this night, he was clearly the best player. Also, check this highlight out if you haven’t yet:
Svi Mykhailiuk: Self said after the game this was the best he’s seen Mykhailiuk on drives, and adding that element makes the guard a more dangerous offensive player. Like Newman, Mykhailiuk made some tough jumpers off the dribble and open threes, but he also was effective getting to the rim while making 8 of 10 twos on his way to 26 points. The senior told Jayhawk Radio Network that he felt better in Italy after losing 25 pounds in the offseason, and perhaps that’s one explanation for his improved play this week.
Devonté Graham: Had a rare loss of composure in the second half when he became frustrated with Dream Team Italy’s physicality. He threw up a wild shot from 35 feet trying to draw a foul and took a couple of forced attempts. Not surprisingly, the team went through a funk for a few minutes along with its leader. Despite that, Graham remained an excellent distributor while finishing with 10 assists. It was his worst shooting night, though, as he was 2-for-11 overall and 1-for-8 from two-point range with seven points.
Lagerald Vick: He was much more of a playmaker this game and seems to have improved his driving ability in the offseason. The junior scored 20 points, made 8 of 10 shots, was 7-for-7 from two-point range and also had five assists. Billy Preston starting at the 4 position might not be a guarantee if Vick and the three guys above continue to play like this together.
Mitch Lightfoot: Lightfoot was KU’s only scholarship big man available Sunday, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Self sent much of the bench commentary his way. The sophomore missed a pair of free throws, which upset Self, and he also was in the wrong place during KU’s 1-3-1 halfcourt trap on one occasion that led to a Dream Team Italy layup. Lightfoot was an efficient shooter from the field, posting six points on 3-for-4 accuracy. He also had three rebounds, two assists and five fouls in his 18 minutes.
Marcus Garrett: His minutes were limited for a second straight game. Had some offensive highlights late — including a three-pointer — as he scored five points in 10 minutes.
K.J. Lawson: Played big in a game when KU was short on frontcourt depth. Had nine points (4-for-8 shooting) and nine rebounds in 15 minutes. He did frustrate Self one time defensively when he didn’t sink into the lane to help out Graham when the point guard was getting posted up by a much bigger player.
Charlie Moore: He continues to play like Graham, looking to creatively find teammates before searching for his own shot. He had six assists in 16 minutes and also made a pair of threes.
Sam Cunliffe: His style of play reminds me of former KU player Brannen Greene in the half-court, as he hasn’t been a natural distributor to this point and seems to be most comfortable shooting from the perimeter. Cunliffe was good in transition on the trip, though, getting easy points while showing his natural leaping ability. He had five points (including a three-pointer) in 18 minutes Sunday.
Billy Preston: Did not play because of a sore knee that has lingered from a previous injury suffered in practice. Self said Preston could have played through the ailment if the game meant more.
Udoka Azubuike: Sat out second straight game, with Self saying the center still didn’t feel well.