LAWRENCE — Svi Mykhailiuk played it cool.
The Kansas basketball senior guard was asked in a postgame interview Tuesday night what he saw on a one-handed Lagerald Vick dunk, the most electrifying play in the Jayhawks’ 100-54 exhibition rout of Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse and a moment set up by a missed 3-pointer from the Cherkasy, Ukraine, native.
Mykhailiuk may have missed the shot, but in his response, he didn’t miss a beat.
“Ah, I saw him comin’, so I just missed on purpose,” Mykhailiuk deadpanned.
While Mykhailiuk was obviously joking, one wouldn’t blame him for having that level of faith in Vick, especially after the display the latter put on against the Gorillas.
The 6-foot-5 junior showcased his otherworldly athleticism in the dominant Jayhawk victory, never more evident than in the one-motion offensive rebound and slam on the Mykhailiuk miss. The play gave KU a 38-point advantage and occurred near the end of the second of two 20-plus-point runs for the Jayhawks in the in-state destruction.
“Lagerald ended up with five offensive rebounds in the game, and that was one of them,” a more serious Mykhailiuk continued. “It was a really good job on the offensive glass for him.”
Vick finished with a double-double — 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 11 rebounds — in 26 minutes for the Jayhawks, who took leads of 26-3 and 74-31 with 22- and 21-point runs, respectively, against the Gorillas.
Self reiterated his stance that Vick can be the Jayhawks’ best offensive rebounder “without question,” a point he made Monday ahead of the game against the Gorillas.
“He’s hard to block out because he can get a running start. Anybody that can get a running start is hard to block out. But I think Lagerald is a really good player. I think he did a lot of things well.”
Malik Newman’s 19 points led the Jayhawks, who also got a double-double from 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike (17 points, 14 rebounds) and double-digit scoring efforts from Mykhailiuk (18 points) and Billy Preston (10 points).
Newman said he still finds himself in awe of Vick’s explosiveness.
“He still surprises me with it,” Newman said. “With him, it’s always fast and just happens out of nowhere. It’s always great.”
Of his dunk, Vick said he simply “timed it up” and heeded his coach’s constant advice.
“Coach was telling me, ‘Do the small things,’ ” Vick said. “I was just doing the things that we need. I just felt like we needed extra possessions, so I was going after loose balls and crashing the board on the offensive end.”
Vick’s effort helped the Jayhawks finish the game with a 48-29 advantage in rebounding and a 48-12 edge in points in the paint.
Self, who labeled KU a bad rebounding team following the team’s first exhibition victory over Missouri and said it might need to take a “rebounding-by-committee” approach, seemed pleased with Tuesday’s effort — with a catch.
“The thing about (offensive rebounding) is, you gotta go every time and you’ve got to have the ball bounce right for you in addition to going every time,” Self said. “We got lucky a couple times because the ball just bounced right, but if you go five out of 10 times or six out of 10 times, you’ll definitely steal your team a couple more points, without question.”
Self said it was “kind of hard to tell” just how much progress his team has made in rebounding when judging it compared to the undersized Gorillas.
“You know, when you have a big size advantage like Udoka, you can get kind of misled on how you’re really doing rebounding the ball,” Self said. “Those may not be rebounds against Kentucky. Those will be offensive put-backs instead of defensive rebounds.
“I thought we did some good things, but I think that we can still play with much more aggressiveness than what we did tonight, especially defensively.”
Xavier Adams, a University of New Mexico transfer who tied for the team lead with 12 points for the Gorillas, said he wasn’t surprised by Vick’s explosiveness.
“No, not at all. He’s a Division I athlete,” Adams said. “At my old school, I’ve seen players just like him — strong, fast and athletic, can jump high. It’s something you need to win in the Big 12, and they have it.”
PRESTON OK AFTER INJURY SCARE — The Halloween tilt did produce one frightening moment for the Jayhawks.
Preston, one of three regulars that make up KU’s thin frontcourt, went down with an apparent injury midway through the second half. Shaken up after a collision with a Pitt State player, he needed help off the court and to the locker room.
The freshman forward did return to the KU bench, though, where he remained for the rest of the contest. Self said Preston “got hit in the noggin’” but added he expects him to practice when the Jayhawks return to the court Thursday.
Preston finished 5-for-5 shooting with 10 points and four rebounds in eight minutes for KU, which led by as many as 53 points.
The Jayhawks finish their exhibition slate with a 7 p.m. Nov. 7 contest against Fort Hays State.