Bill Self told reporters after No. 5 Kansas lost to No. 12 Oklahoma that is was a “bad decision” to leave 41% free throw shooter Udoka Azubuike in the game to get intentionally fouled down the stretch.
With Kansas leaded the Sooners 78-74 and less than four minutes left on the clock, Lon Kruger opted to intentionally foul Azubuike four times in a stretch of five possessions. Azubuike missed six straight free throws – including two front-ends of a one-and-one – as Oklahoma went on a game-ending, 11-2 run. The final score was 85-80.
“It was on me, for this game,” Self said. “If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would’ve done it differently.”
Self’s thinking was clear: Kansas cannot afford to have Azubuike off the floor in critical minutes of big games, and he wanted to show his guy that he has confidence in him. The question now is whether or not the way this played out will crush Azubuike’s confidence in future games.
“It was obviously the wrong thing to do to win this game,” Self said. “Hopefully it doesn’t hurt him moving forward. I’ve always been a big believer that you send a bad message to somebody when you don’t have confidence in him. Especially when you know he’s going to have to play every big minute late in the season against good competition.”