Yikes. I don't care which team you pull for, it's hard to find positives in what transpired tonight, at least offensively. Duke came away victorious in one of the roughest season openers in recent memory.
It's hard to describe the first half as anything but ugly. It's actually a testament to this year's squad that they were only down 33-30 at halftime, given their 18 turnovers. Yeah. Eighteen turnovers. Fortunately they forced nine of their own and an old hallmark of Bill Self teams - FG% defense - helped keep them in the game.
Fortunately, the start of the second half can be accurately described in much more positive terms. Some improved focus and an emphasis on getting looks at the rim helped Kansas build a 46-37 lead just five and a half minutes in. Ochai Agbaji contributed to the run with a big three and an emphatic slam, while David McCormack ran around doing a little bit of everything.
Unfortunately, the turnover bug returned, with KU turning it over on three straight possessions, leading them to forfeit the lead by the under-12, tied at 47.
Down the stretch was another mess of ugly, with Kansas turning it over at will while smothering Duke and preventing good looks around the hoop. At the under-4 Duke held a 59-58 lead, but it was anyone's guess who would stumble their way to victory.
Ultimately, it was Duke. A couple more of their shots fell over the last few minutes. Fittingly, McCormack blew KU's final chance at a lead by bouncing the ball into a Blue Devil's hands. A Devon Dotson three at the buzzer was too little, too late, and Duke took the 68-66 win.
While the Blue Devils will technically get the win, in a game that ugly, there are no winners. We can only hope these teams make huge strides as the season goes on, because this was barely basketball. KU finished with more turnovers than made shots.
Kansas gets a shot at redemption Friday at home against UNC-Greensboro. I hope they don't play defense, because it may be this KU team's kryptonite.