Kansas men’s basketball senior center Udoka Azubuike has maintained an efficient game inside so far this season, earning him the best been the best shooting percentage from the field in the country through the first month.
Sporting a 79.7 field goal percentage on the season, Azubuike helped lead the Jayhawks to their first Maui Invitational Championship since 2015.
The senior center shot 82.8% (24-for-29) in the tournament, including a clutch 12-for-15 performance in Kansas’ 90-84 overtime victory against the Dayton Flyers.
Of course, nearly all of Azubuike’s attempts come near the basket, and coach Bill Self sees improvement in his center’s post game.
“He was patient on the post, he didn't dribble as much, so there were some positive things that he did that were very good,” Self said in a Kansas Athletics press release after the Jayhawks beat Dayton.
A continued presence in the post can bolster the Jayhawks into becoming the top team in the country with teams like the Duke Blue Devils and the Kentucky Wildcats still searching for team chemistry and identity.
More importantly, Azubuike’s dominance inside could be the difference in Big 12 play and March. If he continues to command attention inside, he will open up looks for his teammates, especially sophomore guard Devon Dotson.
The best example of this was both players having career highs on the same night against the Flyers. Dotson’s 31 points and Azubuike’s 29 point output earned them co-Most Valuable Player honors in the Maui Invitational.
Azubuike scored nine points in the overtime victory, with all of them coming in the first 2:13 of the period. The senior set the tone for Kansas, who ended up outscoring Dayton 17-11 in overtime.
Part of that mini-outburst included him going 3-for-3 from the free throw line, which has been heavily chronicled throughout the Azubuike’s career.
“He's the most dominant big in the country and he imposed his will today, knocked down some clutch free throws. He played awesome,” Dotson said about his center in a Kansas Athletics press release.
Going forward, the Jayhawks will look for Azubuike to assert his authority in the paint. After missing 55 games in his first three seasons at Kansas, the most important part for him is his availability because when he's healthy, Azubuike has shown a propensity to score inside makes things easier on his teammates.
“He hasn't caught many breaks health-wise. But he has developed and he's worked really hard on his touch and his free throws, and even the ones he missed actually looked good tonight. So I'm proud of him for a lot of reasons,” Self said in the Kansas Athletics press release.