Many of us were expecting a rough outing tonight, given USC’s size and interior defense. But I don’t know that many fans were expecting this.
Out of the gate, both teams looked sped up and neither was hitting their shots. As the teams settled down, however, one of them started scoring points. USC sophomore Isaiah Mobley hit a career high four shots from outside in the first half alone, while the Jayhawks shot just 26% from the field, compared to the Trojans’ 53%. Mobley had a game high 14 at that point while the Jayhawks were led by Marcus Garrett’s seven. Sadly, USC was already dominating this game prior to the 11-0 run on which they closed out the half. Kansas went into the locker room down 40-21 with absolutely nothing working on either side of the court.
Kansas hit a couple of early shots in the second half but was still powerless to slow the Trojans down and could never make this game even remotely competitive. The lead just slowly grew throughout the second half, eventually hitting 30 points with just under seven minutes left to play. USC was on fire from three, but there were so many things going wrong, they could have hit half as many without it giving the Jayhawks a chance. In the end, Kansas went out with a whimper, 85-51.
To be fair, McCormack looked like he might have used up all his energy in his minutes Saturday against Eastern Washington. He was going to have a rough night regardless, with future high lottery pick Evan Mobley playing center on the other side, but with him just recently recovering from COVID and rejoining the team, it just wasn’t in the cards for him tonight. Along those same lines, Jalen Wilson only rejoined the team this morning, and he ended up limited to eight minutes in which he never quite looked comfortable.
There weren’t any standout performances to highlight for KU, but Marcus Garrett came closest, playing through foul trouble and contributing four assists and six rebounds, while leading the team with 15 points, albeit on 5-16 shooting as he had to force the issue given the huge deficit. McCormack just didn’t look like the same player we saw Saturday and finished with five points and four rebounds. Ochai Agbaji was letting it rip, but hit just 3-13 and 2-8 from deep for a total of eight points. DaJuan Harris hit his only shot, a three, and dished out four assists as well.
This team, even at 100%, was simply not constructed to make a deep run this year, and it’s a credit to Self that they even won 20 games and earned a 3-seed. There will be plenty of time to discuss and debate what things look like moving forward, but for tonight, we can put this season to rest. By all accounts, this season was a real struggle for every team, and KU finally getting hit by COVID at the worst possible time just wrecked any small chance they had and doing something impressive in March.
The Jayhawks finish the year 21-9, without a loss to any teams outside the KenPom top 50, while racking up 9 victories over teams in that same group.