Kelly Oubre had been waiting for a game like this one. A highly touted recruit, fans were also waiting for it. On Saturday, he delivered and it could spark the beginning of something big.
Behind a career high 23 points and 10 rebounds, Oubre helped spark Kansas to a 51 point second half, as they defeated Lafayette, going away 96-69 at Allen Fieldhouse to improve to 9-1 on the season. The tone for Oubre’s day came from the freshman’s second career start.
"He's not patient and I don't want him patient, but he's kept a good attitude and practiced hard. Of course he wasn't going to start today,” head coach Bill Self said. “That was a gift from Brannen Greene (who was benched for disciplinary reasons) He was good against Georgetown. He was better against Utah. He's had a great week of practice, so it doesn't surprise me that he played really well today."
Oubre dictated the tempo on both sides of the ball. While, he was stellar offensively, it was on defense where he got everything started. It also helped that everything is finally starting to slow down for him, as he adjusts to the rigors of the college game.
"Yeah, I think the game is slowing down for me a little bit. I can see the floor better,” Self said. “I just feel where I am supposed to be at the right time and that is helping me be one step ahead when I am on the court because the game was fast paced for me at first, but now I feel like it's slowing down and I am just now catching up to it."
Lafayette challenged the Jayhawks with their execution and ball movement. After trailing 45-28 at halftime, they came at Kansas for the first few minutes of the second half, cutting the lead down to as little as seven points with 11:40 to play, forcing Self to call a timeout.
From there, the Jayhawks began to pull away with their defense and their size, as they used that to amass a 44-26 advantage on the boards. When the undersized Leopards couldn’t respond, the game was decided and Kansas turned a seemingly close game into a runaway.
Five Jayhawks scored in double figures, including some new names such as freshman Sviatoslav Mykailiuk, who chipped in 11 points, hitting three three pointers late in the first half.
Forward Hunter Mickelson scored eight points and added seven rebounds off the bench, while playing a season high 17 minutes, culminating a great week according to Self. The day also belonged to guard Frank Mason who tallied 14 points and notched nine assists, drawing praise from his head coach.
"He was great,” Self said. “He was good not only because he made shots, but was also able to get the ball where ever he wanted to get it. He had nine assists and one turnover and I think he is getting better all the time. I thought he was terrific and totally controlled the game. When they made their run and we weren't really playing well, the only reason the game wasn't closer was because of Frank. Frank kept them at arm's length."
Kansas will next travel to Philadelphia to face Temple on Monday night, before an eight-day break for the Christmas holiday. They’ll then close out non-conference play with two home game against Kent State and UNLV.