LAWRENCE, Kan. — The only thing Bill Self seemed pleased about from a first-round NCAA tournament win by Kansas was, well, that his top-seeded Jayhawks had won.

He wasn’t a lot more impressed with their second-round win.

But in a tournament gone goofy with upsets, where two No. 1 seeds are already out, simply surviving should be reason for applause. And that Self thinks the best is yet to come should give the Jayhawks confidence as they head to the Midwest Region semifinals.

“Well, I think in the NCAA tournament you don’t worry as much if you played well or if you played poor,” Self said. “You worry more about, ‘Did we advance?’ And I think that’s all we did is we advanced.”

Kansas will play Clemson on Friday night in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I don’t think we were good against Penn except for short stretches, and I don’t think we were very good (against Seton Hall) except for short stretches,” Self said. “But we put ourselves in position where hopefully we’ll play much better next week and play our best ball. Certainly we’re going to have to be better, obviously, on Friday.”


It would help if Udoka Azubuike is closer to 100 percent.

Azubuike, a 7-foot sophomore, played 22 minutes against Seton Hall and the Jayhawks needed all of them against Pirates big man Angel Delgado. But while Azubuike was effective after missing most of two weeks with a ligament injury to his left knee, there were times he labored.

“He’s probably not close to 100 percent, to be honest, but the way his attitude has been, the way he’s been rehabbing, that allowed him to get out there,” Devonte Graham of Kansas said. “You can’t duplicate having ‘Doke in the game. He’s a big piece of our offense.”

Now Azubuike will have another week to prepare.

Self said the plan was to rest him Sunday and Monday, practice Tuesday through Thursday and be ready to go against a fifth-seeded Clemson team that routed No. 4 seed Auburn.

“Coach is trying to limit my time sometimes, and I’m like, ‘Coach, I’m good to go,'” Azubuike said. “I’m feeling good right now. I feel good to be back with the team. And like, as soon as I stepped on the court, I felt good and I was just good to go.”


Still, the Jayhawks (29-7) have only had one person step up offensively in each of their first two NCAA tournament games. When they’ve struggled this season, such as in losses to Washington and Arizona State, nobody in a talented backcourt came through in the clutch.

Against Penn, Graham scored 29 points, dished out six assists with six rebounds, and played all but one minute.

Against Seton Hall, Graham was largely silenced, perhaps in part by a shot to the head he took from his own teammate. But sophomore Malik Newman took over, the Big 12 tournament’s most valuable player hitting four 3-pointers and pouring in 28 points in an 83-79 victory.

“With the four guards and with the big man, I think anybody – any one of our starting five – always have a chance to go out and get 20-plus,” Newman said. “Lot of weapons we have to our arsenal.”

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