Mitch Lightfoot plans to maintain KU in profitable column whereas David McCormack is out | Smithology

Kansas ahead Mitch Lightfoot throws a shot over Oklahoma in the course of the Phillips 66 Huge 12 Basketball Championship on the T-Cell Heart in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri on March 10, 2021.

Kansas needed to play with out their finest huge man of their playoff debut Thursday evening on the Huge 12 match. However at the least the Jayhawks had an actual put up participant to throw at Oklahoma – and a assured participant in that.

Even earlier than the Jayhawks have been notified on the T-Cell Heart in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, senior ahead Mitch Lightfoot informed head coach Invoice Self, “Coach, I’ll play properly.

Daring phrases for a substitute who has solely performed 33 mixed minutes in KU’s final 4 video games. Lightfoot did stay up their productive evening, nonetheless, enjoying a key position in a 69-62 win.

The 6-foot-8-inch senior didn’t begin as KU opened the evening with a formation of 5 guards as junior David McCormack has adopted COVID-19 protocols and is unavailable. However as soon as Lightfoot checked in across the center of the primary half, he made certain to make an impression and provides Self causes to depend on him extra because the evening wore on. .

KU’s assassinated bench combo Dajuan Harris and Lightfoot first related seconds after Lightfoot entered, as the large man’s layup set the tone for his evening of 11 factors and 4 rebounds.

“Clearly, we miss David. It is a crucial a part of our crew. I believe I have to go on the market and provides us that interior presence. I would not say I used to be making an attempt to interchange his punches – I do not suppose we are able to change him. He is an important participant, ”mentioned Lightfoot, when requested how he averted feeling the strain whereas taking over extra accountability within the quarterfinals of the match. “I am unable to await (McCormack) to return, however within the meantime I am going to verify we hold profitable till he arrives.”

Lightfoot is not precisely the bodily power that McCormack is defensively, however Lightfoot’s presence hasn’t led to opponents’ layups and routine factors within the paint – which has at occasions been a difficulty with Lightfoot’s rosters. of KU in latest weeks.

He mentioned he simply tried to remain energetic in protection, particularly when it was his accountability to observe OU’s Brady Manek (19 factors, 3-for-6 of three).

“When Manek is in it, it is completely different than their different nice gamers, as a result of he stretches the ground so properly,” mentioned Lightfoot. “There have been a number of occasions he acquired the higher of me, however an important participant and he can actually shoot the ball. More often than not the large man is not the perfect shot on the crew so I had a number of psychological errors on my half.

Even so, the Jayhawks (20-8) had no obvious drawback. Actually, KU beat OU, 42-30, throughout Lightfoot’s 20 minutes on the bottom, whereas the Sooners edged out KU’s five-guard rosters, 32-27.

Indubitably, Lightfoot had an extended leash than typical as KU’s sole rotation was nice. It is good for the senior to have acknowledged this, and even to earn a 3 level (his second of the season) as soon as he entered a groove.

“Mitch was nice tonight,” mentioned KU goalkeeper Ochai Agbaji, whose 3-point second-half play-off prevented a OU rally. “(Lightfoot) acquired a 3”. He was glorious on the block. Defensively, he was there, energetic on Manek when Manek was within the sport.

His know-how additionally appeared on the finish of the primary half. For those who have been questioning why Lightfoot was so fast to shoot their second 3-point try, which wasn’t as interesting as the primary, properly, it was a two-on-one state of affairs.

“Marcus (Garrett) was telling me to shoot it,” Lightfoot mentioned of the shot with 42 seconds left within the half and KU up 20. “If it will get in, nice, but when it does not go we get at all times one other possession. to finish the (half.) “

Ultimately, the sport was not so lopsided, because the Sooners’ offense accelerated within the second half. However Lightfoot was additionally delivered in file time. KU solely had a three-point lead because the time slipped below 3 minutes.

However the 23-year-old Lightfoot, an outdated man by faculty basketball requirements, wished to maintain profitable, so he led a sideways decide and roll with Harris virtually completely, pushing KU’s lead again to 5 with 2:40 to do. Lightfoot praised Harris (5 assists) for his “nice feeling” on the time.

“He put that in a window that was about that huge,” Lightfoot mentioned, putting his arms shut in entrance of him. “He did an important job. Clearly I’ve to transform on my free throw, but it surely’s neither right here nor there.

It solely took one huge man for the Jayhawks to advance to the Huge 12 semi-finals. The Jayhawks had the precise man for the job.

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