Malik Newman’s long wait to play an official basketball game in storied Allen Fieldhouse ended Tuesday night.
Newman, Kansas’ 6-foot-3 redshirt sophomore transfer from Mississippi State who scored 17 in the Jayhawks’ six-point exhibition victory over Missouri at Sprint Center, poured in 11 points during the first 11 minutes as the Jayhawks routed Pittsburg State 100-54.
Newman, who could practice but not play in games all last season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, hit four of seven in shots in helping the Jayhawks to a 53-28 halftime advantage over their Division II vistors.
Newman said he had a nice Facetime conversation with his dad, Horatio Webster, to calm his nerves before Tuesday’s game.
“It was great,” said Newman, who also had four assists and three boards in 22 minutes. “The atmosphere was good. I know through the season it’ll be better. I can do nothing but expect great things from the fans.”
KU coach Bill Self hopes for even more from Newman, who led all scorers with 22 points. Svi Mykhailiuk added 18 points for KU, Udoka Azubuike had 17 (with 14 rebounds), Lagerald Vick added 15 (with 11 rebounds) and Billy Preston contributed 10.
“I love Malik, (but) he’s too stationary,” Self said. “He needs to play with more aggressiveness to try to do things other than shooting perimeter jumpers.
“He did drive the ball a couple times which was nice. Defensively he’s a ball watcher. He can improve in that area. He’s a guy who can score points in a hurry, he and Svi both. He has to be more well-rounded on both ends.”
Guards Newman, Mykhailiuk and Vick combined for 52 points on a night senior point guard Devonté Graham had just six points on 1-of-5 shooting with six boards and five assists in 23 minutes.
“Devonté is not hurt by any stretch,” Self said. “I feel like his body is a little tired right now. Good we didn’t play him much tonight.”
Vick, meanwhile, was a human highlight reel. The 6-foot-5 junior, who on Monday said he’d been working on his rebounding from the guard position, put all that practice to good use in grabbing double-digit rebounds.
Vick had three baskets on offensive rebounds, including two off hard dunks. His second-half rebound dunk off a Mykhailiuk miss came via one hand and gave KU a 69-31 lead.
“I saw him coming so I missed it on purpose,” Mykhailiuk joked after the game.
Of his spectacular putbacks, Vick said: “I just time it up. Coach is telling me to do small things. I was doing things we need. I feel we needed extra possessions, going after loose balls and crashing the boards on the offensive end.”
Self said Vick “is hard to block out because he can get a running start. I think Lagerald is a really, really good player. I think he did a lot of things well.”
Self was not awed by Azubuike’s numbers, which he put up in 24 minutes.
“They weren’t real rebounds,” Self said. “He got a couple where he had to go get them, but when you are that much bigger than everybody you should get more, and they weren’t shooting a great percentage (31.1 to KU’s 55.4).
“‘Dok’s’ conditioning is why I left him in there (at end of game). He and Mitch (Lightfoot, 6 points, 3 blocks, 25 minutes), because of conditioning, weren’t very good. So he (Azubuike) has got to get in better shape so he doesn’t foul.”
Self said the freshman Preston, who went 5-for-5 from the field, “was by far our best guy tonight in his very limited action.”
Preston, who played eight minutes, ran into a Pitt State player on the offensive end and was helped to the locker room at the 18:09 mark. He returned to the bench at the 11:47 mark but did not return to the game.
“He got a bump on the noggin so we held him out,” Self said.
The coach said Preston was OK and should be able to resume practicing on Thursday. The team has a day off Wednesday.
“Billy was on a roll,” Self said. “In very limited action, he made some nice plays.”
Pitt State, which hit seven of 30 threes to KU’s eight of 23, was led by Xavier Adams and Mar’Qywell Jackson, who had 12 points apiece. But the Gorillas were overmatched from the start. It was 31-6 more than 11 minutes into the game, and 40-10 at the 8:26 mark.
“I was worried we weren’t going to get to 10,” Pitt State coach Kim Anderson said. “They shot well. There was no answer really. We started the game out scared, nervous. Most of these guys have never been in this environment before. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t play better.
“As the game wore on, we got more relaxed. I know we got beat bad. I didn’t expect to come in and win. I hoped we’d played a little better than we did. It’s definitely a learning experience for us.
KU will next meet Fort Hays State in a 7 p.m., tip Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Self on Anderson
Pitt State’s first-year coach is Kim Anderson, who was head coach at Missouri the past three seasons.
“I’ve said it many times, I like Kim,” said KU coach Bill Self. “He’s a good guy. I’ve known him for a long long time.
“He never got I don’t think the credit he deserved for being the best player in the Big Eight back in the day. He certainly was put in a tough situation at Mizzou. I certainly hope he has great success at Pittsburg State.”
A former Missouri standout, Anderson was the Big Eight’s co-player of the year with Kansas State’s Mike Evans in 1977.
KU’s Preston and Garrett started the second half in place of starters Newman and Mykhailiuk. Newman and Mykhailiuk had just two rebounds combined the first half. … The Jayhawks, who won their 26th straight exhibition game, improved to 85-9 overall in exhibition action. KU improved to 58-4 in exhibitions played at Allen Fieldhouse. … The Jayhawks now have won 47 exhibitions in a row at Allen, including 13 straight under Self. KU is 53-2 in exhibition play in Self’s 15 seasons. … The Jayhawks’ last loss in an exhibition game was to AMW France, 79-60, on Aug. 12, 2012 in Paris. KU’s last exhibition loss in Allen was 93-82 to Australia’s national team on Nov. 29, 1993. … KU’s coaches are expected to hit the recruiting trail on Wednesday. Zagsblog.com reports KU will visit on No. 2-ranked Zion Williamson in South Carolina, while 247sports.com and Rivals.com report the Jayhawks will visit No. 6 Romeo Langford in Indiana. Langford made an official visit to KU last weekend.