Tough Loss For Young Jayhawks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This was a heavyweight battle between two of the winningest programs in college basketball history. Syracuse beat KU, 89-81, in overtime to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

With KU leading 76-75 in overtime, Syracuse took control of the game with a 10-0 run. KU went just 3 of 11 from the field and 2 of 4 from the free throw line in the extra period. The Orange, meanwhile, connected on 5 of 8 shots and 6 of 9 from the line in OT.

The Jayhawks looked to be headed to their fourth straight victory leading 51-38 with 15:18 remaining in the game before Syracuse went on a blistering 16-3 run, including 10 straight points, to tie the game at 54. The Orange took a 57-56 lead before Cole Aldrich nailed a jumper in the lane with 8:13 left to spark a 7-0 run and give KU a 63-57 lead with 5:49 remaining.

KU, though, missed three straight free throws as Syracuse stormed back and tied the game at 69 with 1:15 left on four straight charities by sophomore guard Jonny Flynn.

Aldrich answered with a short jumper in the lane with 51 seconds remaining and then stole the ball. He soon got fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws before Flynn swished a three-pointer with eight seconds left to tie the game at 72 and force overtime.

Just like the 2003 NCAA finals against Syracuse, free-throw shooting doomed KU in this game. After making all five charities the first half, Kansas went just 6 of 15 after halftime. (11-20 FT for the game).

The Orangemen also gave KU fits with their man defense, which they switched to from zone midway through the second half.

Flynn led the way for Syracuse with 19 of his game-high 25 points after halftime. Eric Devendorf added 20 points, while Paul Harris (14 points and 14 rebounds) and Arinze Onuaku (19 points and 12 rebounds) recorded double-doubles.

KU was led by Sherron Collins with 21 points, followed by an impressive performance from freshman Tyshawn Taylor with 17. Aldrich was a force inside with 15 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks, while Marcus Morris added a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards.

After shooting 34.6 percent in the first half, Syracuse got hot and shot 58.3 percent in the second half. On the flip side, Kansas shot just 42.9 percent in the second half and 41.9 percent for the contest.

“It was a tough game,” said KU coach Bill Self. “It was a game we controlled for the most part, (but) had a couple of real serious dry spells. Of course, Syracuse made some big plays down the stretch to put them in position to have a chance. Our inability to make free throws and to put the game away led to them having a great win. ... At times, we looked pretty good, but we did lose our composure for a couple of stretches.”

“They just whipped us in their man,” Self added. “When they went to their man, that’s when they got better. We were kind of in the hang-on mode as opposed to trying to attack.”

Taylor, who gave KU a spark with 11 points and two steals in the first half, said the Jayhawks lost their poise in the second half and rushed shots when Syracuse made its run.

“Give credit to them,” Taylor said. “They played hard, they fought back and they kept their composure, which we lost. It was just a game we should have won.”

Despite the loss, Self was pleased with how KU competed. Self said the Jayhawks just need to get “tougher” and “harder.”

“I think we got better this week even tough this was a tough one to swallow,” Self said.

The Jayhawks return home to Allen Fieldhouse on Friday where they’ll host Coppin State at 7 p.m.

Notes:

Sherron Collins made the All-Tournament team along with Jon Brockman (Washington), Nick Calathes (Florida), Paul Harris (Syracuse) and Jonny Flynn (Syracuse). Flynn was named MVP.

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