Lagerald Vick hit seven 3-pointers and had a career-high 33 points, Dedric Lawson and Udoka Azubuike came alive late and second-ranked Kansas beat pesky Louisiana-Lafayette 89-76 on Friday night.
Vick also had nine rebounds for the Jayhawks (3-0) while topping his 32-point outburst earlier in the week against Vermont. Lawson added 19 points and Azubuike had 17 points and eight rebounds.
Justin Miller scored all 22 of his points in the first half to lead four players in double figures for Louisiana-Lafayette (1-2). JaKeenan Grant finished with 18 points, Malik Marquetti had 14 and Cedric Russell had 10 points and five assists.
Miller and the Ragin’ Cajuns had the Jayhawks on the ropes most of the way.
Taking advantage of Kansas’ slow start, Louisiana-Lafayette ripped off an early 15-2 run that was capped by a five-point trip down the floor. Gant knocked down a 3-pointer, Jayhawks coach Bill Self lit into an official to earn a technical foul, and Marcus Stroman hit both the free throws to give the reigning Sun Belt champions a 32-20 lead with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Jayhawks finally woke up with a 10-0 run of their own. Then, after Miller hit his fourth 3 of the half, Kansas went on another brief run to take a 44-41 lead into the break.
It was a two-man show at that point: Miller had scored all his points while Vick had 18.
Miller cooled down in the second half but the Ragin’ Cajuns refused to go away, even when foul trouble set in. The Jayhawks were clinging to a 65-64 lead with 8:40 to go when they started to pound the ball inside, taking advantage of their size for the first time all game.
Lawson and Azubuike combined to score 16 straight before Vick, who was 8 for 8 from beyond the arc against the Catamounts, poured in his final 3-pointer to give himself a new career high.
Chiefs linebackers Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland and Ben Niemann were in the crowd ahead of their showdown with the Rams on Monday night in Los Angeles. Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler also was in attendance before heading to Portland for the MLS Western Conference finals Sunday.
There was a buzz all afternoon that Kansas was close to hiring Les Miles to replace fired football coach David Beaty, but no announcement came and the former Oklahoma State and LSU coach was not at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks visit Oklahoma in their penultimate game of the season Saturday.
Louisiana-Lafayette: After back-to-back games against top-10 teams, the Ragin’ Cajuns should be favored in most of their games the rest of the way. The Cayman Islands Classic is up next.
Kansas: There was plenty of laboring in back-to-back home wins over mid-majors. Perhaps a trip to New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off will help the Jayhawks find the intensity they had when they nearly led wire-to-wire in beating Michigan State to open the season.
Louisiana-Lafayette plays Colorado State on Monday in Estero, Florida.
Kansas plays No. 24 Marquette on Wednesday night in New York.
Source: The Associated Press