To be honest, the Kansas Jayhawks (5-1) really didn’t deserve to win their semi final match up the Villanova Wildcats (6-0). Justice was served when Ryan Arcidiacono nailed his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer with 12 seconds on the clock, to give the Wildcats a 63-59 win.
The Jayhawks struggled mightily in several different facets of the game. Kansas played great defense for the first 8 minutes and the last 8 minutes but they seemed lost much of the time in the middle.
The lack of shooting success plagued the Jayhawks all night long. The converted on only 6 of their 25 first half field goal attempts, for a frigid 24%. In the second half, things were a bit better as they made 15 of their 29 shots for 51.7%. For the game, they shot 38.9%. This won’t be the last game they lose if they have many more games under 40% shooting.
It wasn’t any better from 3-point range. Kansas only cashed in 2 of 11 from deep, for 18.2%. The Jayhawks converted on 60% of their 25 charity attempts.
Kansas hasn’t been successful at all shooting the ball in this tournament, especially from three. They have only hit 5 of their 26 attempts from three-point range for a putrid 19.2%. If Kansas doesn’t find a way to sink some shots from long range, they are going to struggle against long, athletic teams like Villanova.
The Wildcats pressed the Jayhawks with traps at three-quarter court, then sprinted back to plug the lane, basically giving Kansas the shots from three. Kansas must convert those on a more regular basis.
Frank Mason led the team in scoring with 12 points while three others in double digits, including Joel Embiid with 10. Embiid scored 10 points and led the team in rebounding with 5 boards, in just 12 foul plagued minutes. He eventually fouled out.
A couple of items in the box score illustrated just how undeserving of a win the Jayhawks were. They got killed on the backboards, losing in that area 34 to 43. This is the first game in which Kansas has been out rebounded. The Jayhawks also recorded just 9 assists. Between poor shooting and an uncharacteristic lack of sharing on offense, it is easy to why this number was so unusually low.
Dylan Ennis and Darrun Hilliard lead the Wildcats in scoring with 14 each. Ennis hit all three of his 3-point shots and the two combined to hit 6 of 9 attempts from deep. Villanova had 3 players with more rebounds than Kansas’ leader, led by JayVaughn Pinkston with 7.
With the loss, Kansas is now playing in the consolation game of the Battle 4 Atlantis at 6 p.m. tonight against the UTEP Miners (4-3). UTEP got beat up by the Iowa Hawkeues in the other semi final game, 89-53.
The Miners average 72.1 points per game and are led by junior guard McKenzie Moore, who knocks down 13.3 points a game. Junior swingman Julian Washburn is the only other to average double figures with 11 per contest.
The Minors may be the worst team Kansas has played since Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener. This does not mean Kansas can sleep walk through this one. They have too many things they need to improve on as a team and as individuals. Top recruits Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, Jr. have both been disappointments so far this season, considering the hype that has surrounded them.
Wiggins seems totally disinterested most of the time, like he is just waiting for his paycheck to arrive. In the loss against Villanova, he scored 10 points but had just 3 rebounds, no assists, and 4 turnovers. He played very poor defense most of the game, and just didn’t seem to be that much into it. Selden has made very little impression at all in this tournament.
Much of the Jayhawks’ foul trouble among their big men is because the perimeter players have not been containing the ball handlers. The opposing guards are getting to the basket, and the Jayhawk big men are picking up fouls while trying to help. There is no Jeff Withey to clean up the messes this season.
Kansas must tighten things up in several departments, especially defense and shooting. This team is too talented, and the coaching staff too good, for this team not to start to show some improvement. It will be tougher if players are thinking more about the NBA than playing for Kansas.