In a city known for hosting world-class shows, Kansas freshman Josh Jackson put on one of his own during a dominant first half that led the third-ranked Jayhawks to a 71-53, run-away victory over the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Thursday night at Thomas and Mack Center.
Equal parts Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group and David Copperfield, Jackson was masterful all over the floor during the Jayhawks’ 11th consecutive victory of the season.
The only thing missing was the live animals used by Siegfried and Roy and feathered costumes of the classic Vegas showgirls. Of course, the way things went for the KU freshman in just 12 first half minutes, he may still have been too much for UNLV to handle even if he played with either strapped to his back.
“It seems like he’s been doing that a lot more in games, where he’ll kind of spark us,” KU senior Landen Lucas, who finished with a dozen rebounds in 27 minutes. “And that’s big. We need him to do that and be that kind of presence for us to put us ahead, to extend our lead and he definitely did that tonight.”
With his left wrist in a soft cast and a sad stare on his face, Kansas freshman Udoka Azubuike watched Thursday’s 71-53 Kansas victory over UNLV in street clothes from the end of the KU bench.
It was a much different position than the one the KU big man had enjoyed during the six previous games, when he became a starter on the No. 3-ranked team in the nation and seemed to take one step after another in his development as a college basketball player.
Injured Tuesday during KU’s final practice before leaving town, the 7-foot freshman will miss the rest of the season with damaged ligaments in his injured wrist.
“No. Not at all,” said KU coach Bill Self after Thursday’s game when asked if he knew that at the time of the injury that Azubuike’s season could be in jeopardy. “We just knew he hurt his wrist. He finished practice. And then after practice (associate director of sports medicine) Bill (Cowgill) said we needed to get it looked at.... It’s in a bad spot and the MRI confirmed it was torn.”