Well, it’s official. This team is not capable of a good start. Tonight’s miserable start to the game featured the Jayhawks missing their first six shots from the floor before Ochai Agbaji finally hit a three about three minutes into the game. Fortunately the defense picked up the slack during that time, surrendering just two points in the same span. OSU would get a couple more buckets before the first media timeout, at which point KU was down 8-5 while hitting a whopping two of 13 shot attempts.
The rock fight continued throughout the rest of the half, with the two teams remaining within a possession, for the most part. By the time the teams entered the locker room, KU was clinging to a slim 28-25 lead. The two teams combined to shoot an abysmal 18-55 (32.7%) from the floor, and 3-16 (18.8%) from three. This type of first half offensive performance (sometimes it lasts the entire game!) has become all too familiar for the Jayhawks.
Despite the team struggles, Marcus Garrett had a game high 11 at the break, shooting a perfect 5-5 from the floor, and collecting four boards. Christian Braun’s shot wasn’t falling (again), but he did lead all players with five first half rebounds to go with four points while missing both his threes.
In the second half, some of KU’s shots started to fall early. They weren’t exactly scorching the nets, but by the 10 minute mark, they’d built up a 49-41 advantage and had held the lead since late in the first half. From there they only increased their intensity and lead. With 5:20 to go, the Jayhawks took the first double-digit lead of the game for either team, going up 62-52.
After a brutal first half in which he shot 1-7, David McCormack really got going down the stretch, and was up to 20 points by the under-4 media timeout, playing with energy and actually going at the rim, rather than his tendency to fade away from it. The Jayhawks basically just held their ground from there, ending with a 78-66 victory.
McCormack’s huge second half would probably merit Player of the Game honors, ending with 23, plus ten boards and three assists (though still on just 7-16 shooting). Jalen Wilson also notched a double-double, though one would be hard pressed to say he looked like the Jalen Wilson who helped carry the team early in the year, scoring 11 on just 4-12 shooting and missing all three attempts from beyond the arc while hauling in 11 boards. Christian Braun made it a triple double-double for Kansas, scoring 15 while hauling in ten rebounds and grabbing three steals while going 3-5 from deep.
The Jayhawks improve to 13-7, 7-5 in conference play, and have one more easy stretch of games before a brutal trifecta of Tech, Texas and Baylor to close the season. Next up will be a makeup game against Iowa State Thursday, followed by a quick turnaround rematch in Ames Saturday as the Jayhawks play a rare three games in one week schedule.
Editor’s Note: Bill Self is now 33-0 in Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN’s Big Monday.