Kennedy Bright & Steven Abramo
Although Kansas City is the local team, it was hard to tell in the sea of red and blue at the Sprint Center Saturday as the men’s basketball team fell to No. 2 Kansas (KU) 98-57.
Senior forward Javan White did not start and senior point guard Jahshire Hardnett was out due to injury. The changes to the starting lineup did not hurt the Roos at first, however, as they got off to a solid start offensively.
After falling behind 10-4, Kansas City went on 9-0 run to lead the game 13-10.
KU quickly took control, however, as big men David McCormack and Udoka Azubuike caused problems for the Roos in the paint on both ends of the court.
“When we have our size you only have two choices,” Head Coach Billy Donlon said. ”You can front and try to bring backside help for a lob protect or lap off the other big which was effective in the first half.”
The Roos finished the first half down 43-24, with 15 turnovers to Kansas’ five.
The Jayhawks continued to pull away in the second, outscoring the Roos 33-11 in the first 10 minutes.
“Kansas is terrific, there is no other way to say it,” Donlon said. “They have very few weaknesses and they’ve got a Hall-of-Fame coach. In terms of us, I was really disappointed with how our guys started the second half. One thing we did do well when we didn’t turn it over in the first half, is we made Kansas play longer possessions.”
Junior guard Marvin Nesbitt, Jr. and White led the way for the Roos with 12 points, while junior guard Brandon McKissic added nine points, seven assists, and three rebounds. Freshman guard Maks Klanjscek finished with nine points as well.
“Coaches told us to take advantage of the opportunity. Give them respect, but not too much,” Nesbitt Jr. said. “I try to take the best shots all the time and not try to force things. A bad shot leads to a good shot on the other end so I tried to cut down on that.”
The Roos committed 22 turnovers that resulted in 30 KU points, while the Jayhawks only gave the ball up 10 times for four Kansas City points.
“I thought for 15 minutes they started with a plan,” Donlon said. “But at the end of the day when you play Kansas, you can’t give up 24 points in the first half on your turnovers for touchdowns. You got no chance. We gave up transition layups that 8th-grade teams shouldn’t give up, and I don’t mean that with disrespect to Kansas.”
Kansas City is back home Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Swinney Center to take on Toledo at 7 p.m.