LAWRENCE, Kan. — Udoka Azubuike returned to make an impact and showed little signs of rust from being inactive with an ankle injury for almost a week, but the Kansas big man admits he’s still not 100 percent fit.
Azubuike suffered a right ankle injury on Dec. 4 in a win over Wofford and missed four games with the problem.
However, the junior returned on Saturday to score a game-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the No. 5 Jayhawks to a comfortable 87-63 win over Eastern Michigan, as the home side improved to 11-1 on the year.
Playing without limits to start the game, Azubuike scored 14 first-half points on 6 of 8 shooting, while making four of his five shots in the second half and collected all nine of his rebounds during that period in an encouraging performance.
Nonetheless, the 7-footer said he ankle is still not 100-percent, but it’s healing nicely.
“It is getting better,” Azubuike said of the ankle injury. “I mean, I’m not 100 percent yet, but it’s getting better.”
Speaking on he managed to handle the return, Azubuike noted: “My coaches, my teammates — they all told me to trust my feet, my legs and go out there and play.
“I spoke to Coach Rob (assistant coach Norm Roberts) and my trainer, (Billy Cowgill) the athletic trainer. That’s all I had to (do was) go out there and trust my feet and my legs and take it one play at a time.”
Kansas head coach Bill Self was expectedly delighted to have his star center back on the court.
“He was good. I thought Doke (Udoka) got us off to a good start. He shot a high percentage, which he should with so many close shots, but it was nice to see him step up to the line and make some free throws too.”