The Jayhawks came out sluggish and were dominated by UTEP in the first half.
Even though you will sometimes see a Kansas team start slow in Allen Fieldhouse, things usually turn around by the ten minute mark of the first half. Kansas starts to settle in. Their opponent starts to realize that teams not named Kansas don’t win there. Kansas catches up and then pulls away, and the fans go home happy.
That wasn’t the case on Thursday night. UTEP dominated the entire first half. In fact, they dominated the game for the first 30 minutes.
The defense we have become used to seeing from Kansas for the past few weeks was nowhere to be found until the last six or seven minutes of the game. The offense was about as ugly as you have seen from a Kansas team until about the final five minutes. And I say “about as ugly” on purpose. We have seen as bad or worse offense from this team this season.
At one point, if you didn’t know any better, you would think that Bill Self told his players that the best thing they could do on offense would be to drive to the basket and throw up the worst-looking shot they could think of. It really looked like that was the game plan.
The Jayhawks weren’t getting the ball down low to David McCormack very often. When they were able to throw it to him, he was in bad position and did something bad with the ball if he even had a chance to get the ball.
Christian Braun is an especially bad passer to McCormack inside. He seems to throw the ball to the other team as much as he throws it to McCormack.
This game felt like a first-round NCAA game that Kansas fans have seen way too often. The lower-profile school gives all they have and punches Kansas in the face early. Kansas falls down double digits and stays there through the end of the first half. Kansas makes a run early in the second half only to be pushed away. And all the while, it’s one or two players for the other team that Kansas just cannot stop. In the end, Kansas squeaks by for the win, and every Jayhawk fan is just happy it’s over.
Did you think I would say Kansas loses? No, I said first round. The big upset losses in the NCAA tournament come in the second round.