LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Udoka Azubuike’s eighth double-double and four blocks, including two key swats late, propelled the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks to a 74-68 over Tennessee, 74-68, Saturday afternoon in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Azubuike was joined in double-figures by sophomore Devon Dotson, who netted 22 points and added seven rebounds, and sophomore Ochai Agbaji, who knocked down a trio of 3-pointers en route to a 16-point outing.
The win improved the Jayhawks to 16-3 on the year, while Tennessee fell to 12-7 in its 2019-20 campaign.
MOMENT OF THE GAME
With less than two minutes to play in regulation, Azubuike made plays on both ends of the floor after Tennessee cut the Jayhawk lead to 69-66. The senior made a key free throw at the 1:51 mark, before nabbing a steal and a pair of blocks on Tennessee’s next two offensive possessions to keep the upset-minded visitors off the board. The Volunteers managed just one field goal after pulling within three points while Devon Dotson and Ochai Agabji hit three free throws to seal the Jayhawk victory. Azubuike’s 18-point, 11-rebound, and four-block performance marked the fifth time in his last seven outings he has posted a double-double and four or more blocks in a game.
STAT OF THE GAME
12-0 – Trailing by seven points with under six minutes to play in the opening half, Azubuike reentered the game after being sidelined with foul trouble and turned the game on its head. The senior center scored seven points, six of which came via dunks, during a 12-0 Jayhawk run that saw the home side regain the lead before the intermission. KU turned the seven-point deficit into a seven-point halftime lead, 37-30, and never relinquished its advantage.
The win improved KU to 5-2 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
KU’s victory also moved the Jayhawks to 12-6 on ESPN College Gameday during the regular season, including a 7-0 mark at Allen Fieldhouse.
After falling behind by seven points with under six minutes to play in the first half, Kansas went on a 12-0 run, regaining the lead 31-26 with 3:28 to play in the half. KU closed the half on an 18-4 run, to turn a seven-point deficit, into a seven-point halftime advantage.
KU finished the night scoring its last eight points by way of free throws. The Jayhawks were held without a field goal for the final 5:36 of the game.
KU’s six turnovers were its fewest this season and the fewest since the Jayhawks committed four against Texas on Jan. 14, 2019.
Seven Jayhawks saw game action, marking the fewest to play in a game since KU had seven play against Texas Tech on Feb. 24, 2018.
Tennessee’s two steals were the fewest by a KU opponent since Wofford swiped one on Dec. 4, 2018.
Kansas was outrebounded 36-32 on the night, just the third time this season the Jayhawks have lost the battle on the glass. KU is 3-0 in those matchups.
KU’s 33 free throw attempts marked its most this season.
Senior Udoka Azubuike tied his career-high with 11 free throw attempts, a mark he set against Baylor on Jan. 20, 2018.
Azubuike recorded his 16th career double-double and eighth of the season. He has now posted double-doubles and four or more blocks in five of his last seven outings.
QUOTE OF THE GAME – Full Quotes
“He had some big blocks at the end and I really respect him because we played him a year ago and he has really improved. I love watching tape of him and watching how he has tried to improve.”
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes on Udoka Azubuike
The Jayhawks will journey to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys for ESPN Big Monday on Jan. 27. Tipoff from Gallagher-Iba Arena is set for 8 p.m. (CT).
Kansas is 116-59 all-time against the Cowboys and 35-35 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. KU has won six of the last eight meetings against OSU. The Jayhawks are also 50-12 under Bill Self on ESPN Big Monday, which includes wins their last 14 Big Monday contests.