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Kansas' National Title Hopes Took A Massive Hit With The Announcement Of Udoka Azubuike Out For The Season - Unless Bill Self Makes One Change

So some pretty big news came out last night when some kicker double doinked. In case you missed it, Kansas announced big man Udoka Azubuike will miss the rest of the season after suffering the same injury as when he was a freshman in tearing a ligament in his hand.

Now, Kansas has played without Azubuike this season when he missed some time with an ankle injury and then the Iowa State game with a wrist injury. Both of their losses (at Arizona State and at Iowa State) happened during the time he missed. But, really it’s going to be up to Bill Self to change the way Kansas looks now.

So, yes, the title hopes have taken a massive hit, unless this one thing happens. Well, really two things happen. First, Self has to run a 5-out offense based around Dedric Lawson. He’s been running a 2 big man set with Lawson and Azubuike going back to Self’s bread and butter hi-lo sets. It makes sense with both in the lineup. Self has called Lawson the best passer he’s ever had and his ability to step up top and keep Azubuike low because of that is a set that works. You also have one of the best finishers in the country in Azubuike.

Now that he’s gone, you can’t revert back to that. No matter how well you think Lawson plays in a hi-lo set. You have to run 5-out. Start the games with Dotson/Grimes/Vick/Garrett/Lawson. Then you can mix and match lineups based on how you start. You can bring in David McCormack or Mitch Lightfoot and run two bigs for a little. Or you can keep the 5-out look and bring in Lightfoot/McCormack for Lawson and Charlie Moore for one of the guards with KJ Lawson as the 8th man in the 8-man rotation, 9 if you’re in foul trouble.

Now ultimately it’s going to come down to Kansas shooting the ball better. The Jayhawks were able to run the small ball lineups the last couple of years because of outstanding shooting. This year? The Jayhawks are just 34% as a team from three and 302nd in the country in attempting threes per field goal attempts. That’s going to change without Azubuike there taking up shots. A lot of this will fall on Vick staying consistent and more importantly Grimes becoming more of a threat as he’s shooting just 31% from three.

This is just another twist in the Kansas saga. Remember they don’t have Silvio De Sousa who is still out from the FBI investigation and I’d be surprised if he plays at all this year. Kansas is going to have a couple of teams in Texas Tech and Iowa State to challenge them to snap the Big 12 streak. It’s going to fall on a modern offense now though with the 5-out based around Lawson. Be prepared to see a whole lot of Dedric Lawson touches and a quick change in the offense. We’ll see how long it takes for Kansas to adjust to life without Azubuike.