After suffering their second loss of the non-conference season, home cooking might not go down so easy for the Jayhawks, who tonight welcome 5-1 Southern Cal to Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks were unable to pass what Bill Self called his team's first true road test of the season Saturday afternoon in a 64-57 loss at DePaul. Making the defeat even more bitter for KU was blowing a 14-point second half lead.
The biggest storyline as far as USC is concerned is the visit Lodrick Stewart pays to the Fieldhouse. The 6-foot-4 senior Trojan guard is the identical twin brother of KU junior Rodrick Stewart. While Rodrick has played a bench role in the young season, Lodrick is the Trojans' second leading scorer, averaging 14.7 points per contest. USC is led offensively by junior swingman Nick Young, who scores 16.5 a game, and 6-foot-9 freshman forward Taj Gibson has been the main low post threat with 11.7-point and 9.8-rebound averages so far.
The Trojans enter tonight's game having won five in a row after an 80-74 overtime loss against South Carolina to start the year, and this will be the first time USC plays away from its brand new home facility - the Galen Center.
Off the tip, Julian Wright earned an open look from the free throw line, but the miss was ripped down by USC's Taj Gibson. USC responded by a turnover on a misfired pass by Daniel Hackett.
Abdoulaye N'diaye started the game's scoring by hitting a pair of free throws for USC off of a three-seconds call on Darrell Arthur on the other end. KU's miscues continued on its next possession with a ball thrown away from the paint by Mario Chalmers.
KU finally broke open just over two minutes in off of another USC turnover, when Chalmers pulled up on the top for a smooth three-ball, putting KU up 3-2.
A Julian Wright block was stricken for the record on the other end of the floor with a foul called. Hackett took the opportunity to the fullest by hitting two free throws of his own.
Mario Chalmers had a three blocked on the other end, and USC kept rolling as N'diaye hit a turnaround look inside off the glass.
Julian Wright then scored his first points of the night with a jumper from eight feet out.
KU took the lead at 7-6 on a give-and-go between Russell Robinson and Chalmers which ended with a Chalmers layin. Chalmers then drew an elbow on the defensive end from Hackett to give the ball back to KU.
Out of another USC timeout after being pressured at midcourt, Julian Wright finished a lob pass from Mario Chalmers in two-handed fashion to put KU up 9-6.
Lodrick Stewart scored his first points of the game on the next possession, and USC got the ball right back on a Brandon Rush turnover under the hoop.
Rush then missed a three when KU got the ball back, but it was moot as USC's Taj Gibson was called for a walk under the KU hoop, continuing the sloppy fashion of the open minutes.
Nick Young silenced the Fieldhouse crowd by throwing a one-handed, arm-extended jam down on a pair of Jayhawk defenders on the other end, giving USC the lead back, 10-9. That was followed with Rodrick Stewart checking into the game for the first time, joining his twin brother Lodrick on the hardwood.
After a short scoring lull, Sherron Collins scored on a six-foot baseline jumper, and then went coast-to-coast for a layup to put KU up 13-10 with 11:20 to go in the first half. Out of disgust, Tim Floyd stormed out to nearly half court after whistling a timeout to argue with the refs, adding to an already-intense atmosphere.
Out of the timeout, USC's Dwight Lewis, who at one point last year had a verbal commitment to KU, hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game.
Nick Young hit a pair of free throws after being fouled by Brandon Rush to tie the game for KU, but KU's answer was a Julian Wright tear-drop jumper, giving him six points and the Jayhawks a two-point lead at 15-13.
KU came back up with the ball and a chance to extend the lead, this time it was Rush hitting a pair from the stripe to double KU's advantage at 17-13.
USC's Taj Gibson answered back on a wild possession which had a nearly 10-second loose ball scramble, and his bucket cut the lead in half again. KU turned the ball over once again, but a Russell Robinson steal down low turned into a transition opportunity. Brandon Rush was fouled hard by Kevin Galloway going up for a dunk, and he'll have two free throws to shoot after another television timeout at 7:51.
Rush hit both free throws to put KU up 19-15 and give him four points so far in the game.
Gibson answered with his second field goal of the half on a mid-range jumper, and USC got the ball back again on the other end after a loose ball was tied up. Dwight Lewis was wiped by Sasha Kaun going up for a layup down the baseline, though, and Lodrick Stewart was whistled for his first foul of the game in transition, putting KU in the bonus at the 6:28 mark.
Mario Chalmers hit two free throws, keeping KU's lead at four. After KU forced yet another USC mistake, Brandon Rush hit a transition three, followed with fist pumps and screams to put KU up seven. But that didn't last long, as Lodrick Stewart made up for it with a three of his own.
Lodrick then scored again in the KU defense's face to keep the lead tame with KU leading 24-22.
Darnell Jackson missed the front end of a bonus free throw trip at the other end, and USC's Taj Gibson was fouled on the other end after a sweet give from Lodrick to get to the line himself. Gibson hit both free throws to tie the game with 4:45 to play in the half.
Rush hit another three-pointer coming off of a backside screen to give KU the lead once again, but Gibson drove to score his seventh and eighth points of the game, and a transition layup by Lodrick Stewart off of a bad Sasha Kaun pass gave USC the lead at 28-27.
Sherron Collins hit his first three of the game to put KU back up by a deuce, and Darnell jackson then ripped down a difficult rebound off of a Lodrick Stewart three miss. Jackson was rewarded on the other end by Sherron Collins, and the junior hit a short shot and was fouled in the process, sending KU into the final television timeout of the half up 32-28.
Jackson hit the free throw to give KU a five-point edge.
USC turned the ball over, and it was followed by a high lob from Mario Chalmers to Jackson, giving him five straight points. Another USC misfire turned into another KU transition opportunity, but Sherron Collins short-armed an open three.
Lodrick Stewart continued his hot first half with a three-pointer, giving him a game-high 12 points right before the two-minute mark.
In the final minute, Sasha Kaun earned a trip to the line huffing and puffing after drawing a block in transition off of a dish from Chalmers. The 6-foot-11 junior made one of two to put KU up 36-31.
Daniel Hacket hit a pair of free throws, leaving KU the final possession of the half with less than 20 seconds to go. After a Russell Robinson miss, Darnell Jackson was fouled trying to put it back. He hit one of two, giving him six points at the half and KU a 37-33 lead. Brandon Rush leads KU with 10 points, while Chalmers has seven. Lodrick Stewart leads all scorers with 12, while Taj Gibson has eight for the Trojans.
Lodrick Stewart opened the half by disrupting a lob pass to Darrell Arthur, and took it himself to the other end for two points, pulling the Trojans within a bucket.
Arthur, though Scored his first points of the game on the ensuing possession and drew a free throw with it. He played just three minutes in the first half after picking up a pair of quick fouls. His free throw made it a five-point game.
Russell Robinson then picked Lodrick's pocket, and fed Julian Wright on the break for a dunk inside, putting KU up by seven points for the third time on the night.
Taj Gibson hit two free throws on the other end to move into double digits and keep KU's lead from swelling too much, and Robinson was then whistled for a charge on the offensive end after passing up a three from the corner.
Lodrick Stewart wouldn't go away after that, with yet another three to give him 17 points and keep USC in the hunt, down 42-40.
Russell Robinson was credited for two points on the return trip after his inside layin was goaltended by RouSean Cromwell.
The game took a short break when Lodrick Stewart went down in a heap at center court after being whacked in the eye by Russell Robinson, who was called for foul No. 3.
The Stewart-less Trojans fired a bad shot and set KU up on another fast break. Chalmers went to the rack hard to earn another two-shot stay at the line. Het hit both to put KU up 46-40.
Nick Young hit his second field goal of the game on USC's next possession, and pulled the Trojans to within four at 46-42 with 15:41 to play in the game.
USC's Daniel Hackett was fouled while drawing down a defensive foul, and it put USC in the bonus with more than 15 minutes left to play. His two free throws made it a 46-44 game, with KU still clinging to a marginal lead.
Darnell Jackson extended it a tad by following a Sherron Collins miss. KU got the ball back again, and kept it alive after three-point misses by both Chalmers and Collins. During that break, Lodrick checked back into the game, and KU couldn't capitalize as Rush missed a baseline two.
KU's Darrell Arthur was whistled for a pushoff on the other end, and he went back to the bench with his third foul of the game. In response, Taj Gibson another free throw get within three.
Darnell Jackson finished the next KU possession with a jumper at the top of the key to give him 10 points and KU a 50-45 advantage.
Sherron Collins scored on a dipsy-doo layup out of the timeout in up-and-under fashion to give KU its fourth seven-point edge of the night. And for the first time, Lodrick Stewart was unable to respond, missing a three-pointer. After Brandon Rush rebounded his own missed bank shot, Mario Chalmers hit a fading two to put KU up 54-45.
KU had a chance to go up even further, but Lodrick Stewart hit yet another three-pointer to again quiet Allen Fieldhouse. KU leads 54-48 with 10:54 to play.
Darrell Arthur followed a Julian Wright miss out of the timeout in tough fashion to again put KU up by eight points. Overshadowing it though was Arthur picking up his fourth foul about a minute later.
Nick Young a couple possessions later hit a two in the face of Brandon Rush to make it a six-point game again. But KU was quickly able to make some noise, by Jackson drawing the fifth and final foul of the game on Abdoulaye N'diaye. Jackson hit one of two free throws to put KU up by seven for the fifth time. Collins made it nine with a backcourt steal and an open court pair off the glass.
Taj Gibson had an inside two-handed throwdown to again silence the fans in quick fashion, and it was followed by a Brandon Rush three missing and going out of bounds, awarding the ball back to USC with 7:28 left, trailing 59-52.
Dwight Lewis scored his first field goal of the game on a wide open look underneath off of an inbounds pass to pull USC within five, but Mario Chalmers canceled it out with a leaner in the lane to give him 13 points on the night.
Julian Wright hit a pair of free throws out of a 30-second timeout, but Sherron Collins was called almost immediately on the other end for fouling Daniel Hackett. Hackett hit one of two to make it an eight-point game at 63-55.
Brandon Rush did some more of the same, by driving hard on RouSean Cromwell to foul him out, leaving USC without yet another big man for the closing minutes. Rush hit one of two, scoring his first point of the second half inside the five-minute mark. But Hackett hit a two-point baseline jumper right after.
Darrell Arthur's frustrating night was alleviated a tad when he put KU's lead back at nine points with another kiss off the glass, but Taj Gibson kept the checkers contest going, with a similar shot for USC to make it 66-59 with 3:10 to play.
Darrell Arthur hit half of a double-bonus trip to the line out of the timeout, but Lodrick Stewart hit another three-pointer to pull USC within five points at 67-62 with just over two minutes to go.
But Russell Robinson shot across the key and hit Brandon Rush slashing under the hoop for a huge one-handed slam, making it a 69-62 game with 1:49 to go.
Darrell Arthur made a huge defenisve play out of a 30-second USC timeout by stripping the ball through Taj Gibson's legs, but KU gave it back.
This time it was Julian Wright answering with a block of Nick Young underneath, and the free throw fest began from there.
Russell Robinson made one of two free throws to start it off, and Brandon Rush pulled down a huge rebound off of a Lodrick Stewart miss. Robinson subsequently got another trip to the line.
Robinson hit both, giving KU it's first double-digit lead of the game, and that would be the last of the scoring, as KU won 72-62.
Lodrick Stewart led all scorers with 23 points for USC, but bothe Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers had 13 for the Jayhawks, who improve to 7-2 heading into Saturday's noon contest against Toledo at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.