After winning three straight games and looking poised to move up in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), Kansas City men’s basketball struggled in consecutive losses to UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and New Mexico State last week.
The Roos contest against UTRGV got off to a slow, physical start. Kansas City started sloppily, racking up four turnovers and six fouls in a five-minute span. The Vaqueros entered the bonus 10 minutes into the game and shot 57% from the field to take a 33-22 halftime lead.
“I take a lot of responsibility for the offensive struggles,” said senior forward Javan White. “I have to be better and convert. I also need to do a better job of drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. We have to continue to get constant ball movement and make easy plays, and we will be fine offensively.”
The offensive struggles continued in the second half for the Roos as they continued to miss shot after shot and commit turnovers. The Vaqueros lead grew to as much as 23 points with nine minutes left in the half. The Roos shot just 39% from the field overall, with senior guard Rob Whitfield leading the team with 13 points. White and freshman forward Josiah Allick both added 10 points, but Kansas City fell 73-60..
“I just think that UTRGV runs a lot of defenses at you, and it takes time to read them,” said senior forward Jordan Giles. “We must have great practice today and come in with a mindset to grow and play great on Saturday.”
Unfortunately, the Roos were unable to bounce back in front of a sold-out home crowd against the conference leading Aggies on Saturday. Despite leading a furious comeback in the final minutes, Kansas City lost 67-61.
The Roos were on fire to start the game, with Giles scoring 10 of his 20 points in the first half. Kansas City shot 60% from the field in the first half and led by as much as eight. The Aggies would come back to tie the game just before halftime, only to see Giles knock down a three at the buzzer to give the Roos a slim lead.
Kansas City started slowly in the second half, allowing New Mexico State to gain its first lead of the game and never look back. The Roos went cold on offense, and the Aggies started to pull away, growing their lead to 16 points with three minutes to go. Kansas City scored 11 straight points to cut the deficit to five with 51 seconds left, but the Aggies drained three free throws to ice the game.
The Roos hit the road to face second-place Grand Canyon on Thursday, Feb. 13.