Kansas basketball vs. Pitt. State Preview: The final preparation for Duke

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 17: Udoka Azubuike
LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 17: Udoka Azubuike /

The Jayhawks will take on the Pittsburg State Gorillas tomorrow night in Kansas basketball’s second exhibition of the season.

Last Thursday, Kansas basketball won its first exhibition of the 2019-20 season 86-56 over Fort Hays State University. The Jayhawks started slow but finished strong against the Tigers. Kansas played last week’s exhibition without starting point guard Devon Dotson, or senior transfer Isaiah Moss. Despite missing two potential starters, the Jayhawks got it done, which brings us to this week’s Kansas vs. Pitt. State preview.

READ MORE: Kansas vs. FHSU: Four takeaways from Jayhawks’ win

The Gorillas were picked to finish eighth this season in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll. Last season, Pitt. State finished the season 17-13 under head coach Kim Anderson, who Kansas basketball fans may recognize.

Anderson was previously the head coach at Missouri for three seasons, and he also played for the Tigers in college from 1973-1977. In his senior year, Anderson was named Big Eight co-Player of the Year. The Gorillas’ season ended with a second-round loss in the MIAA tournament to the Washburn Ichabods 94-99.

Similar to last week, Kansas basketball should have absolutely no trouble beating any Division II team. It’ll be the final time the Jayhawks do a dress rehearsal before facing #4 Duke at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, November 5.

On the status of Devon Dotson, head coach Bill Self said that Dotson will play tomorrow, despite missing last week’s exhibition due to a tweaked ankle. Senior transfer Isaiah Moss is doubtful for the game, with Self saying that Moss hasn’t practiced all week.

On fan-favorite Mitch Lightfoot, Self said that he would play in the exhibition; however, it’s likely that Lightfoot will redshirt this season:

"“As of now we think the best option would probably be to redshirt him.” – Bill Self"

READ MORE: In a loaded frontcourt, where does Mitch Lightfoot fit?

On things to look for, it’ll be interesting to see how Self plays Udoka Azubuike, Silvio De Sousa, and David McCormack. The three big-men are as talented as any group in the country, but the defense wasn’t the best with two of the big men playing at the same time. Based on a Bill Self quote after the Fort Hays State game, it sounded like we may not see any two of them on the floor together too much.

"“So we may be better off playing him at the five and playing David at the five and rotating those three guys to be honest with you.” – Bill Self"

Interestingly, Self mentioned last night that McCormack will start next to Azubuike, which should be pretty interesting to see. Finding the right combination that maximizes the Kansas offense is important, and it may realistically take a few games before that happens.

The new freshman also shined in Kansas basketball’s exhibition last week. Christian Braun looked like he might see some time this season, and so did Tristan Enaruna and Jalen Wilson. It’ll be exciting to watch this freshman class continue to develop and see how their roles and confidence grow throughout the season.

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The Jayhawks will need to start getting fine-tuned for their matchup with the Blue Devils in less than a week. It’s going to be a tone-setter for the season, and Kansas will undoubtedly want to start off the year with a win. The Pitt. State exhibition is set to tip-off at 7:00 PM and will be broadcast on ESPN+.