Kansas City Blues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In front of a sold out crowd at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Monday night, the Davidson Wildcats jumped out to an early 7-0 lead over the Kansas Jayhawks and never looked back - eventually dropping the No. 11 team in the country 80-74.

Prior to Monday night's match-up with the Davidson Wildcats at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the Kansas Jayhawks had a shoot-around Head Coach Bill Self dubbed "spirited."

And Sunday, they had a pretty good day of practice. So Self was optimistic about their frame of mind prior to tip-off.

"I thought we'd be somewhat ready to play," he said. "But we weren't."

In front of a capacity crowd of more than 18,000, the Jayhawks fell to a relentless Wildcats squad that - at times - seemed to be channeling the spirit of program legend Stephen Curry, 80-74.

Things got started off on a sour note, as Davidson raced out to a 7-0 lead fueled by missed Kansas shots and outstanding offensive execution on their own end. From there, the Jayhawks played catch-up for essentially the entire game.

Though the Wildcats didn't exactly shoot lights out from three-point range, hitting precisely one third of their astonishing 33 attempts, they always seemed to find a way to hit the shots that counted. Every time Kansas pulled within striking distance or even tied the game, a clutch shot would fall, usually at the hands of Davidson guard Nick Cochran.

Cochran was 5-of-6 from the floor including 4-of-5 from three-point range and, in general, played outstanding basketball. He scored 21 points on six shots, dished out three assists and turned the ball over once in just 21 minutes.

Though the Jayhawks were down just one at the half, Self felt the margin was misleading.

"Guys don't understand that a possession early in the game still counts," he explained. "And we wasted so many possessions early that allowed them to be comfortable. And when you allow teams to be comfortable they get confidence."

On a bright note, it was the Kansas defense that allowed them to remain in the game with the rims seemingly sealed shut. The Wildcats turned it over 12 times in the first 20 minutes, and Kansas logged nine steals.

The second half was a different story, however, as Davidson locked it down, failing to turn it over once after intermission.

Head Coach Bob McKillop saw it as a sign of his team's mettle.

"A game of basketball is like a boxing match," he said. "You've got to be in the center ring and fight going forward."

The Jayhawks had their opportunities down the stretch. With 6:33 left in the game the score was tied at 55, but a jumper from J.P. Kuhlman broke the stalemate in favor of Davidson, and the Wildcats were able to fend off every Kansas surge the rest of the way.

Afterward, Self was asked if the nine-day layoff between Monday night's game and their last competitive action played a factor, but he promptly dismissed the notion.

"I think Davidson had finals, too," he said. "So I'm not buying into any of that."

To him, the book on this Kansas team is clear. They can be successful - very successful - but they have to understand a few truths first.

"The reality check is we've got to be really focused, play really hard, play really smart and play to our strengths in order to have a chance to beat anyone on our schedule," Self said. "And when we do that, we're pretty good."

Individually, Thomas Robinson was a bright spot once again for the Jayhawks, grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds and pouring in 21 points. Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor also scored in double figures with 15 apiece. Johnson recorded an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio as well, dishing out six dimes and turning it over just once in 34 minutes.

Kansas has a quick turnaround on the horizon. They next take to the court Thursday in Los Angeles, where they will take on Southern California. Tipoff is scheduled for 10 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.

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