In the much anticipated debut of top freshman Josh Selby, the Kansas Jayhawks would need every bit of his help in defeating USC on Saturday. Ranked tops in the nation in terms of offensive efficiency, the Jayhawks have made their mark early in the season as a team that could develop into an offensive juggernaut. The addition of Selby was viewed as another weapon in a stocked arsenal. While Selby certainly added, the rest of the Jayhawk offense struggled.
After a relatively slow start Selby entered the contest for Kansas and on the first shot of his college career Selby knocked down a three from well beyond the arc. By halftime Selby would lead the Jayhawks with 10 points, but Kansas as a whole would struggle to their worst offensive output of the season shooting just 33%.
Fortunately for Kansas they would look as good as they have all year on the defensive end throughout the first half. The Kansas post players continually put themselves in a position to be disruptive. The Kansas guards were rotating and helping, while still recovering and just about any lineup the Jayhawks put on the floor had the athleticism to be disruptive at every position. The result was a defense that limited USC to just 20 points through the first 20 minutes.
To start the second the Kansas offense caught a spark behind back to back threes by Markieff Morris and Selby. The resulting 14 point lead would be the largest of the game to that point, however USC would settle into a little bit of a rhythm on the offensive end behind Nikola Vucevic and bring the game back to within arms length.
By the eight minute mark the defensive focus for Kansas had fallen off and the offensive production continued to stall. Ultimately the Trojans would take a 53-52 lead, their first of the day.
The back and forth continued. Kansas ended up in a dogfight and at the end of the day it was Selby knocking down a clutch three pointer with Kansas down two and just 26 seconds on the clock.
This seems to be prototypical Kansas for the moment. The Jayhawks are a team with a high ceiling, they show flashes of greatness, but they can't quite keep that going for 40 minutes. Games where they should run away end up with the opponent making things much more difficult than they needed to be.
At some point it's the type of play that will come back to haunt this team, but it's still early in the season and this is a team working on a rotation and working on chemistry. For the second time Kansas escapes a Pac10 opponent, in Allen Fieldhouse late in the game.
Winners on the day for Kansas are quite obviously Josh Selby, along with Thomas Robinson, rebounding, the first half defensive effort and surviving. Losers? The Kansas offense, taking care of the basketball, free throw shooting and the ability to put away an opponent.
Final score in this one, Kansas 70 USC 68. Josh Selby led all scorers with 21 while shooting 5 for 8 from beyond the arc. The Kansas trio of the Morris twins and Thomas Robinson combined for 32 points and 23 rebounds on the interior.
Kansas heads out on the road for their next game on Wednesday against Cal in Berkeley.