No. 12 Kansas finds some depth ahead of game vs. Iowa State (Jan 09, 2018)
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Volumes have been written about the lack of depth that Kansas has tried to overcome.
The status of two freshman forwards, Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa, has generated headlines for months, with nothing affirmed by the NCAA regarding their eligibility.
Finally, however, the 12th-ranked Jayhawks (12-3, 2-1 Big 12) were able to point to a backup as a key contributor after sophomore Mitch Lightfoot shined in a win Saturday at TCU.
The 6-foot-8 forward, who has been pressed into duty in the post, had a career-high six blocks, including one in the final minute to help Kansas obtain its second conference road win in as many tries.
The victory enabled Kansas to remain near the top of the Big 12 pack entering a home game Tuesday against Iowa State (9-5, 0-3).
"Success breeds confidence," Lightfoot said. "I think we're just going to take that and go forward with it."
Lightfoot's production against TCU was necessary after Kansas starter Udoka Azubuike played just 13 minutes and fouled out. After three straight scoreless outings, Lightfoot provided nine points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes.
"Mitch got the game ball for sure," Kansas point guard Devonte' Graham said. "He was ready to come off the bench and produce. Doke got in foul trouble. All coach asked of (Lightfoot) is just to play hard and protect the rim and do the little things to help us win, and he definitely did that."
Graham scored 28 points in the win and leads the Jayhawks with an 18.6-point average. The senior point guard is averaging 26 points in conference play and has made 31 of 34 free throws, marks that trail only Oklahoma freshman sensation Trae Young, another point guard.
Iowa State carried a nine-game win streak into Big 12 play, but is winless in the conference after two straight overtime defeats against Texas and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones' six-year string of NCAA Tournament appearances suddenly looks to be in jeopardy.
"We've just got to continue to grow and get better," third-year coach Steve Prohm said. "We'll do that. It stinks right now. It's hard to deal with right now, but that's part of growth, and we'll continue to grow. Down the road, we'll see the benefits of it."
Senior guard Donovan Jackson leads the Cyclones with a 16.7-point average. Freshmen Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard average 14.8 and 11.1 points, respectively.
Nick Weiler-Babb, a 6-5 junior, has played out of position at point guard, but his versatility is reflected in 7.6 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Last season, Iowa State snapped a 51-game home win streak for the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse and became the first program to win twice at Kansas against a team coached by Bill Self, who is now in his 15th season.
The Jayhawks enter the game Tuesday with two losses in their last three home games, including an 85-73 setback against Texas Tech in their first Big 12 home game.
Kansas sits in a third-place tie with Oklahoma in the Big 12 behind Texas Tech and West Virginia, which are both off to 3-0 starts.