LAWRENCE — Svi Mykhailiuk’s words Thursday proved prophetic.
Mykhailiuk, the No. 5-ranked Jayhawks’ senior guard, was asked if he was at all worried about the size of the team’s next opponent, Texas A&M. The Aggies start three players standing at least 6-foot-9 and entered Saturday’s game at Allen Fieldhouse third in the nation in rebounding at 42.4 per game.
Mykhailiuk didn’t hesitate in his response.
“Speed beats size,” Mykhailiuk said Thursday, “any time.”
Speed — and 3s.
The Jayhawks downed their former Big 12 conference foe, 79-68, on the strength of a 15-2 advantage in fast-break points and 12 made 3-pointers, including 10 in the first half. Mykhailiuk had a game-high 24 points in the victory, KU’s first by a double-digit margin since a Dec. 21 win against Stanford and a stretch that included eight air-tight outcomes.
KU hit nine of its first 11 attempts from beyond the 3-point line, and Mitch Lightfoot’s corner trey at the end of the first half gave the Jayhawks (17-4) their 10th of the period and an 18-point lead, 45-27, at the break. Mykhailiuk scored 17 first-half points for KU, which held a 13-0 advantage on fast-break points after the first 20 minutes.
A seven-point burst in 36 seconds helped KU gain separation midway through the opening period. Leading by two, Lagerald Vick hit a 3-pointer, Lightfoot scored on a layup after a Vick steal and feed inside and Malik Newman capped the rally with his own layup.
The scoring charge kick-started an 18-3 run for the Jayhawks, capped by a Mykhailiuk layup that gave KU a 38-21 advantage.
The Aggies (13-8) outplayed the Jayhawks for much of the second half and cut the deficit to 10 with 2:07 to play. But A&M went cold from there.
Newman (15 points, team-high seven rebounds) and Lagerald Vick (10 points) rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Jayhawks.