Depth still a concern for No. 10 Kansas vs. No. 18 Texas Tech (Jan 02, 2018)
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A New Year has arrived, but one of the same problems faces Kansas.
Depth remains an issue for the No. 10 Jayhawks as they host No. 18 Texas Tech on Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse.
Silvio De Sousa arrived last week as a mid-term enrollee out of high school, but he is waiting on amateurism clearance from the NCAA to play in games.
The 6-foot-9 freshman forward is practicing, along with 6-10 freshman forward Billy Preston, who has not yet played for the Jayhawks after the financial details of a car he wrecked on campus came under scrutiny. The NCAA also is looking into that matter.
Until either player is allowed to take the floor, Kansas (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) will continue to play mostly with a four-guard lineup while starting 7-foot sophomore Udoka Azubuike underneath and subbing him out with 6-foot-8 sophomore Mitch Lightfoot.
"It's going to take until February for Silvio to have a clue on what we're really trying to do, even though he can play before that, obviously, but to be totally comfortable," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
"And Billy, I'm going to be real honest: Billy's talented, but Billy's focus I don't think throughout all of this has been (there). I mean, he's hung in there, but you can imagine the frustration has set in."
The situation has led to extended minutes for most Kansas starters while leading to lapses in defensive intensity. The Jayhawks have also been at a disadvantage on the boards, though Azubuike ranks fourth in the Big 12 with an 8.4 average and also scores at a 15.3-point clip.
Azubuike, however, played through lingering back pain in a 92-86 win at Texas to open Big 12 play on Dec. 29. Sophomore guard Malik Newman also has been dealing with a foot injury, which prompted Self to start freshman guard Marcus Garrett, who will likely remain in the lineup against Texas Tech (12-1, 1-0).
Texas Tech throttled Baylor 77-53 in its Big 12 opener and carries a six-game winning streak, though the Red Raiders have lost 16 straight against Kansas.
"I do think we've played teams with multiple shooters on the floor at one time, so maybe we can draw a little bit from those experiences," said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, alluding to the .517 shooting percentage the Jayhawks carry after draining 17 shots from 3-point range against Texas.
"When you play Kansas, especially in Allen Fieldhouse, it's a whole 'nother monster."
Texas Tech leads the Big 12 and ranks second nationally allowing 58.2 points on average and 36 percent shooting by opponents. It also possesses a 23.1-point scoring margin.
Senior guard Keenan Evans leads a deep rotation with a 16.6-point average, and in 3-pointers made (22), assists (47) and steals (20).
"In my mind, we have seven or eight starters," Beard said. "We have seven or eight guys that are going to play X amount of minutes per game, and then we've got some guys that are energy-type players in limited minutes."
Senior forward Zach Smith, a starter who averages 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds, rolled his left ankle in the Baylor win, but he is expected to play.