Azubuike an­kle up­date for Se­nior Night game

The Kansas City Star - - Sports - BY GARY BEDORE [email protected]­

Kansas se­nior cen­ter Udoka Azubuike has been work­ing seem­ingly non-stop in re­hab in an at­tempt to strengthen his an­kle enough to play mean­ing­ful min­utes in Wed­nes­day’s Se­nior Night con­test against TCU.

“Every hour pretty much,” Azubuike said Tues­day af­ter­noon, re­fer­ring to time spent in the trainer’s room since the con­clu­sion of Satur­day’s 6258 vic­tory at Kansas State.

The 7-footer from Delta, Nige­ria sprained his right an­kle in the first half and wound up play­ing 20 min­utes, but not the fi­nal six min­utes of the nar­row vic­tory.

“I’ve been called up sev­eral times to go over there. It’s been con­tin­u­ously get­ting re­hab and treat­ment,” Azubuike said of see­ing the train­ers.

Azubuike said he truly wants to play, in fact is de­ter

mined to play in the fi­nal game of his col­lege ca­reer at Allen Field­house.

“It is my last home game in the field­house. I re­ally want to play. Just what I’ve been through the past four years,” said Azubuike, who missed large por­tions of two of his four sea­sons be­cause of in­jury.

“I want to play,” he re­peated, “if my an­kle lets me.”

KU coach Bill Self, whose No. 1-ranked Jay­hawks (26-3, 15-1) can wrap up at least a share of the Big 12 reg­u­lar-sea­son ti­tle with a win over TCU (16-13, 7-9) in the 7 p.m. tipoff, un­der­stands full well Azubuike is plan­ning on play­ing.

“He def­i­nitely wants to. I don’t know if he will or not,” Self said. “It de­pends on how things go to­day and how sore he is to­mor­row. He’s try­ing. He’s in treat­ment four or five times a day, do­ing ev­ery­thing he’s sup­posed to do.

“It’s one thing to want to play,” Self added, “it’s an­other to want to play on Se­nior Night. I know he’ll do ev­ery­thing he can to get out there.”

If Azubuike can’t play, sopho­more David McCor­mack will take his place at the 5-spot.

“We’ll go from a team not very big now, to a tiny team,” Self said. Backup for­ward Sil­vio De Sousa’s 12-game sus­pen­sion will last one more game. He’ll be el­i­gi­ble to play Satur­day at Texas Tech.

“David has some size, then you’d play all guards,” Self added.

Even if he doesn’t play,

Azubuike will be a part of Wed­nes­day’s Se­nior Night fes­tiv­i­ties. His host fam­ily from Florida will at­tend the con­test and be in­tro­duced with Azubuike be­fore the game along with se­nior guard Isa­iah Moss and his par­ents, who will be in town from Chicago for the game.

Azubuike and Moss will speak to the fans after the con­test.

“I am still think­ing about it,” Azubuike said of his speech. I am not re­ally big in talk­ing to lots of peo­ple. I’m still get­ting it down.

“It has been fast. It’s been up and down jour­ney,” he added of his ca­reer, which he’ll surely ad­dress in his speech, which Self kid­dingly said he’s lim­ited to “20 min­utes.”

“There’s been good times and bad times. Over­all it has been prob­a­bly the best de­ci­sion I’ve made com­ing to Kansas. I’ve en­joyed it,” Azubuike said.

He wants to go out as a mem­ber of a 2019-20 league cham­pi­onship team, which KU can be­come with a win Wed­nes­day.

“It’s be spe­cial, not just for me but the fans, ev­ery­body who played at Kansas. It would mean a lot,” Azubuike said. “We didn’t win last year (after string of 14 straight league crowns). To clinch a share of it at the field­house on Se­nior Night would re­ally mean a lot.”

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