LAWRENCE — It took Udoka Azubuike a minute or two, or 29, to adjust to the reserve role he found himself in for the first time this season.

But when the 7-footer got going Monday, he turned Texas into his own personal welcome mat.

Azubuike, removed from the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks’ starting lineup after what ESPN reported as "a bit of a dust up” with head coach Bill Self over the weekend, battled foul trouble and ineffectiveness early but came to life late in his team’s 69-58 victory over the Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse. The senior center finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, with 10 points and eight boards coming in the second half of what was a one-possession game with under 11 minutes left.

“We saw how much better we were with him in the game," Self said, "than not in the game.”

Both Azubuike and Self refused to talk specifics on what led to Azubuike’s altered role, but Self stressed it was a one-time occurrence, illustrated by Azubuike starting the second half of Monday’s game.

"Doke's our starter, there's no doubt about that. But we didn't have a great day (Sunday). That's about the extent of that," Self said on a postgame radio interview. "He responded beautifully. That's what you're supposed to do. He played with a lot of energy."

Devon Dotson scored 16 points with 14 coming in the second half and Marcus Garrett pitched in 11 to round out the double-figure scorers for KU, which won despite a 2 for 12 night from 3. Matt Coleman (20 points) and Jericho Sims (17 points, nine rebounds) paced the Longhorns.

Unable to take advantage of a 12-minute benching of the Longhorns’ best player, the Jayhawks (19-3, 8-1 Big 12) trailed by two at halftime.

The Texas junior forward Sims, a player Self has labeled one of the best athletes in the Big 12, played just eight first-half minutes after picking up his second foul after four. Despite that, the Longhorns (14-8, 4-5) were only out-rebounded in the period by one, 19-18, with Kai Jones hauling in eight. After an 0-for-8 shooting start from 3, Texas hit 3 of 6 down the stretch, including an Andrew Jones buzzer-beater for the 33-31 lead at the break.

KU, meanwhile, notched just two assists versus five turnovers in its disjointed opening frame. Isaiah Moss had KU's lone made 3 in seven first-half attempts, with reigning Big 12 player of the week Dotson going 0-for-2 from the floor with no assists in 14 minutes before the teams jogged to the locker rooms.

“Coach kind of got into us a little bit, talked to us,” Azubuike said. “We did some silly stuff that we shouldn’t have done defensively. We came out and we didn’t play (our) kind of basketball first half. We just played like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to win because we’re Kansas and we’re playing at home.’ ”

Neither team took command in the second half — that is, until the All-Big 12 preseason player of the year decided to take over.

After picking up his second and third fouls in the period’s first three minutes and taking an extended seat on the Jayhawk bench, Azubuike returned with 10:45 and KU nursing a two-point lead, 44-42. His reentry paid immediate dividends — Azubuike converted a dunk on a Garrett lob pass out of the timeout, then scored a layup on a nifty post move on KU’s next possession to push the home squad’s advantage to six.

Moss converted a layup to continue to rally and force a Texas timeout, but the break in the action didn’t slow Azubuike, who dunked to give KU field goal makes on four straight trips down the court and a 10-point lead, 52-42, with 8:30 remaining.

A Sims bucket off the glass ended the run, but the Jayhawks kept pouring on. Azubuike’s layup through contact a few minutes later capped runs of 8-0 and 19-4 gave the 14½-point favorite KU a 63-46 lead with 3:11 left, effectively stomping out the Longhorns’ long-shot upset aspirations.

Azubuike, the nation's leader in field goal shooting percentage, went 8-for-10 on Monday, helping KU dominate Texas in points in the paint, 40-22. He also recorded a pair of blocked shots.

“His attitude was good. His attitude was good,” Self said. “I was actually very proud of him. I thought he came out and showed some maturity and responded in a way that you’re supposed to.”

A player who Self said used to primarily think of good play as scoring a lot of points, Azubuike has changed that philosophy this season in the face of double- and triple-teams that have limited his own number of shot attempts but also opened up opportunities for teammates.

“As a big, it’s just about the win, about the team,” Azubuike said. “I know there’s a lot of people out there, they have this many stats, this many numbers on me and stuff. But you’ve got to watch it: Me, I get double-, triple-teamed every time. So I know I’m not going to get the points that everybody is going to get, but it’s the difference you make when you’re in the game. And I think when I’m in the game I’m making a lot of difference. I draw a lot of attention and it helps my teammates out.”

KU’s conference slate will continue with an 11 a.m. Saturday tipoff at TCU. It enters that contest still one game back of first-place and top-ranked Baylor, which earned a 73-67 win Monday at K-State.

For Azubuike, just nine games remain in his final collegiate regular season.

“It’s been good. I won’t say it’s been all sugar-sweet. I won’t say it’s always been smooth. There’s been rough edges,” Azubuike said. “But like I said, it’s my senior year. I’m just going to live in the moment because I know I’m going to look back one day and think about this time.”