Kansas center Udoka Azubuike isn’t the most gifted offensive player in the country, but he’s so massive that he’s a lot to deal with nonetheless. Most opposing coaches choose to double team Azubuike, and it’s a pretty good strategy, because he’s not a great passer.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo chose instead to leave a series of defenders helplessly alone on the 7-foot-1, 270 pound “Doke,” who responded by completing dominating those men, scoring 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with four blocked shots in 92-87 win for No. 1 Kansas over No. 10 Michigan State that the Jayhawks otherwise would have lost.
Kansas’ presumed best player, Dedric Lawson, had 20 points and 14 rebounds, but shot 5-for-18 from the field. Quentin Grimes hit six 3-pointers, scoring 21, and Devon Dotson scored 16.
But the Jayhawks only shot 45 percent from the field, and blew double-digit leads in both halves to set up a tense final three minutes.
And it wasn’t until about that time that Michigan State finally started double teaming and denying Azubuike. Had the Spartans gone to that defense a little earlier, they might have won the game … or Lawson, Grimes and Dotson might have carved them up some other way.
Izzo’s idea wasn’t a bad one. Against a team as loaded as KU, especially one with Lawson at the 4, you can see why a guy might take his chances letting Azubuike take a bunch of shots.
But Tuesday night, Azubuike scored on an up-and-under, he scored with a drop step, he scored on a hook shot, he scored with both hands, he drew a bunch of fouls and he even made a few free throws.
And that’s why Kansas is No. 1.