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Udoka Azubuike could play in "emergency" situations for KU Thursday

Posted at 10:35 PM, Mar 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-13 23:41:21-04

WICHITA, Kan. -- The Kansas Jayhawks arrived in Wichita Tuesday night for the NCAA Tournament.

Upon arriving at the team hotel, head coach Bill Self said he's encouraged by the status of injured star center Udoka Azubuike. But, Self added, he's not being overly optimistic.

"He's still not 100 percent. But they say it's one of those things that can get better in a short amount of time," said Self.

Azubuike sprained his medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a scrimmage last week. Due to that injury, the sophomore did not play in the Big 12 Tournament. Despite his absence, KU won the tournament.

But, the sophomore could be available in emergency type situations on Thursday against Penn. "The reality of it is, he's probably not going to be able to practice before Thursday. And I've never liked playing guys before they practice when they come off an injury," Self said.

Azubuike averages 13.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season.

As for the Jayhawks' opponent, Self said he was surprised to see Penn (24-8) as a 16 seed. "They could beat us," said Self. "They've got good enough players. They can really shoot it. They can defend extremely well and don't give up easy baskets."

And despite no 16 seed ever beating a one seed in the men's tournament, Self said, "They have our attention."

KU plays the Ivy League champions on Thursday afternoon.