A 68 game home non-conference winning streak came to an ugly end Sunday night, as Kansas fell to San Diego State 61-57. While the Jayhawks' defense was stingy enough to hold SDSU to just 37.7% shooting, tallying 13 team blocks on the way, the offense simply never got going in the frustrating performance. Kansas was just 6-27 from the field at halftime, and was probably lucky to enter the locker room down by just six. It was reminiscent of the first half of the Florida game, but with ugly shots in place of the turnovers.
The second half was better, for stretches, but never once felt like it was clicking. Kansas was down by as many as 11, but eventually had the game down to just a one point deficit. Some timely stops and a few clutch plays (hat tip to Frank Mason) had things looking up with a few minutes left, and Perry Ellis would end up with two free throws in a two point game with just 11 seconds to go, but only hit the first half. Though the defense held strong most of the second half, a lack of rebounding was probably what killed their chances. SDSU was able to grab several of their own misses on key possessions late, which helped add points and kill the clock during KU's comeback bid. The Jayhawk front court simply didn't block out on the defensive boards (which, for some reason, Doug Gotlieb believes eliminates all over-the-back rules), and the result was a game in which SDSU missed 44 shots, but grabbed 19 offensive rebounds on the way to outrebounding Kansas 51-39 overall.
We're 13 games in now, and the "everything will be fine in the end" assurances are becoming less reassuring. I'm still not ready to hit the panic button, but it's clear that some things need to change and right now, they aren't changing. The defense has generally improved (Toledo notwithstanding), but the offense remains abysmal at times, frequently plagued by sloppy passes and poor decision making by the point guards. The conference schedule starts this week, so the time to work things out is over. The team simply has to start playing better right away if they want to extend the conference title streak.