Las Vegas If Kansas University's basketball team plays tonight against top-ranked Florida as it did Friday night against unheralded Ball State ... well, things could get rather ugly in Glitter City.
"It was pitiful offense. That was sluggish, just absolutely pitiful," KU coach Bill Self said after the Jayhawks' anemic 64-46 victory over the Cardinals at the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena.
The Jayhawks (4-1) on Friday totaled just 10 assists against 17 turnovers and hit 40 percent of their shots - 27.3 percent in the first 20 minutes.
"We're not on the same page. We don't share the ball. The ball sticks in our hands. We don't get the ball to guys on time and target. We're nervous. No telling how many layups we had where guys didn't throw the ball worrying about turning it over, I guess," Self said disgustedly.
The Jayhawks certainly didn't look like a team that would strike fear in Florida in today's 10 p.m. contest. Mario Chalmers was the only bright spot in a first half in which his three three-pointers helped KU to a 28-19 halftime advantage.
"Right now, we are playing like we have got guys on an island, where one guy is on one island and another guy on another island, and the islands are too far apart to really utilize each other as opposed to being cohesive," Self said.
The Jayhawks had just three double-digit scorers
Chalmers had 13 points on the strength of 3-of-5 three-point shooting; Brandon Rush scored 11 on 3-of-10 shooting; and Russell Robinson hit seven of eight free throws and finished with 10 points.
Kansas was so rotten that Sherron Collins said a players-only meeting would be held back at the team hotel Friday night to discuss what needs to be done to play better not only against the Gators, but the rest of the season.
"Yes, I'm pretty sure; I don't know," Collins said, asked if a similar performance would result in a Gator blowout tonight. "It was a tough night as a team. We missed so many layups. We weren't focused at all. We have to come out more energetic."
Sophomore Julian Wright also agreed it will be a tough night for the Jayhawks if the ball doesn't get moved around quicker against Florida than it did against the Cardinals.
"On offense, we weren't getting to our spots to make stuff happen," said Wright, who had 12 rebounds and nine points. "We froze up in certain points of the game. We didn't make the extra pass that leads to assists."
Wright said there might have been a reason for the poor play offensively on a night the defense held Ball State to 34 percent shooting to KU's 40 percent mark.
"It's our first game away from home. Not making excuses, but we got the bad game out," Wright said. "A game where we were not executing."
Self said the game reminded him of last year's first game outside of Lawrence, a loss to Arizona at the Maui Invitational.
"Young team, first game away from home may have played into it some, too," Self said. "We looked like that team that went to Maui in that we didn't share. We should be quick on the perimeter. Ball State's quickness bothered us, especially early in the game."
The game was tied at 16 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half, KU at that point a 5-of-25 shooting team. The nine-point halftime advantage, made possible by a Collins three with a couple of ticks left, was the biggest of the half.
KU led just 33-27 with 14 minutes left when Russell Robinson opened a key 17-4 run with a three. Rush also had a three in the stretch and Collins a driving layup for a hoop.
"Sherron was our most active player, had the most spark of any one in the game. He was good," Self said of the freshman who had seven points and an assist.
"Sasha and Darnell struggled," he added of two bench players on a night the bench scored just 12 points. Kaun had two points and three boards, Jackson three points and five boards.
"You tell me before the game we'd win by 18, I'll take it and go to the house," Self said. "We didn't play well enough to win by 18."
As far as tonight. :
"We are capable of playing great. We are also capable of playing very poorly," Self said. "Sure, we can play better. I think we will play better."