This one started off about as pretty as the football game this morning. NDSU was up 14-10 through seven minutes of play, thanks in part to the decision to, as always, start David McCormack at center. I'm just a casual blogger, but it is my opinion that a prominent D1 basketball team should not start players who are objectively bad at the sport. Again though, just a blogger. To that point in the game, McCormack was 0-4 shooting with only a rebound to his credit on the statsheet.
By the ten minute mark Kansas was down 18-15. NDSU was scorching the nets from three and weren't giving up their lead easily. At the after-8 timeout they were up 25-21, thanks in part to going 4-6 from three. But they were also a more troubling 6-10 from two, while KU was 7-15 against obviously outgunned competition. KU finally pulled even in the last five minutes and finally grabbed a 29-27 lead with 3:35 left. The Jayhawks ended a half to forget with a 35-33 lead, led by nine points from Ochai Agbaji.
Those of us hoping for a better start to the second half were met with disappointment. Instead of coming out and pulling away from an inferior opponent, KU put themselves on upset watch as they played even worse than they had in the first. At the under-16 timeout they were at their worst deficit of the game to that point, down 46-39 and not even looking particularly interested in the game.
Kansas continued to play about as bad as I've seen since 2018. Absolutely nothing was working offensively and NDSU was playing effectively and evenly. The Jayhawks were down 51-44 at the under-12 timeout and were seemingly just going through the motions. They finally found some spark near the 10-minute mark and tied it back up at 51, but it wouldn't last.
It's noteworthy that Kansas was playing their third game in five days, but still incredibly frustrating to watch substantially less talented players blow by them on the bounce and lock them down defensively.
Tyon Grant-Foster came up with a huge take with 1:22 left to finally put Kansas in the lead. NDSU was called for an offensive foul on the other end, but KU couldn't capitalize. The Bison called a timeout with 38.7 seconds remaining, down just 62-61. After the timeout they missed their shot, and Christian Braun came up with a huge board, followed by a pair of clutch free throws. Grant-Foster once again came up HUGE with a massive rejection on the other end. Agbaji, at long last, gave Kansas some breathing room by putting them up four with less than ten seconds remaining. The Jayhawks pulled off an expected-yet-unlikely victory, 65-61.
KU's player of the game has to be Jalen Wilson, who had team highs in points (14) and rebounds (13). Grant-Foster had eight and seven with two steals to go with two big blocks. Agbaji also played pretty well despite obvious fatigue, logging a 13-3-3-2-1 line.
Kansas gets just two days off before paying a much tougher opponent, 9th-ranked Creighton, on Tuesday. Hopefully they'll put this one behind them quickly and get some rest.