Norm Roberts at Champions Classic

Norm Roberts, the acting head coach of Kansas, looks toward a referee during the first half of the Champions Classic matchup against Duke on Tuesday, Nov. 15. at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

After a 69-64 win against Duke in the Champions Classic, Kansas men’s basketball now steers its focus toward the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. 

This will be the first time returning home after a road win for freshman forward Ernest Udeh Jr., and the expectation for a great environment is there. 

“Even just the exhibition before the first official game, you know, I felt the love from Allen [Fieldhouse] already,” Udeh said. “The environment is crazy. Coming off that Duke win and coming back down, I wouldn't expect anything less from them.”

The Thunderbirds ride into Lawrence on a three-game winning streak, serving as a great reminder that no team can be overlooked. 

“I heard they're a good team,” Udeh said. “Like I said, we can't ever look over anybody. Especially at this level of basketball, and, you know, just take one game at a time and just make sure we do what we’re supposed to do.”

The Thunderbirds are capable of playing multiple styles and will present numerous challenges for the Jayhawks, acting head coach Norm Roberts said. 

“Well, they're a versatile team; they're a veteran team,” Roberts said. “They're a team that shoots a lot of threes. I think they have 32 threes a game, so we know they're going to shoot it. They’ve got guys that can play multiple positions.”

Additionally, Southern Utah has a number of players getting significant playing time as they aim to wear out Kansas.

“They also are playing 12 guys playing double-figure minutes,” Roberts said. “So they're playing a lot of guys. So they look to try to wear you down. They can play big, they got a 6-foot-11 center, or they can play small with a 6-foot-11 center. So they're going to throw a lot of different things at us.”

Roberts was also asked about sophomore forward KJ Adams Jr. possibly being locked in at the five.

“My last head coaching gig is tomorrow night,” Roberts said. “That'd be a question for coach Self, but I think KJ has done a really, really good job for us. We've gotten off to pretty good starts in those things. So, who knows what happens later? Yeah, but I can tell you this. KJ Adams is going to play a lot of minutes. That's what's gonna happen.”

Tipoff is set for Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. CST.