San Jose, Calif. Bill Self unfastened the top button on his shirt, loosened his tie and, with an ashen face, paced ahead of his Kansas University basketball players out a tunnel toward the locker room Saturday night.
"He was sad. He wanted more than this. We all did," KU sophomore Mario Chalmers said after the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks' 68-55 loss to No. 2-seed UCLA in the NCAA Tournament West Regional championship game.
It wasn't the fact the Jayhawks (33-5) had their 14-game winning streak snapped that had Self's shoulders slumped. It was the way they unraveled against the Bruins (30-5) and saw their season come to an end while dropping Self to 0-4 in Elite Eight games.
"Coach was pretty disappointed. He said we pretty much gave the game away," sophomore Brandon Rush said after scoring 18 points off 7-of-16 shooting with five rebounds and four turnovers.
"I'm disappointed. We're all disappointed. We had big expectations for Jayhawk fans, but we went out and beat ourselves. We blew a lot of opportunities."
The Jayhawks, who looked good in building a 29-23 lead with 4:30 left in the first half, scored just 26 points the rest of the game.
KU committed 21 turnovers while forcing UCLA's season high of 25 and missed an unfathomable amount of inside buckets - 19 gimmes, to be exact.
53.3 UCLA's field-goal shooting percentage41.1 KU's field-goal shooting percentage7 Points by which UCLA outscored KU from the free-throw line12 Points by which UCLA outscored KU from beyond the 3-point line 25, 21 Turnovers by UCLA, KU17, 18 Points off turnovers for UCLA, KU24 Points for UCLA's Arron Afflalo, on 10-for-15 shooting18 Points for KU's Brandon Rush, on 7-for-16 shooting
By game's end, the Jayhawks had registered their lowest point total of the season and had been blistered for 53.3 percent shooting - the first time since last year's game at Texas the Jayhawk defense had allowed 50 percent or better marksmanship.
"I thought our guards were a little careless. We overpenetrated, overbounced. But the kids were trying so hard," Self lamented.
"Sometimes you can try too hard. I feel we rushed some shots or maybe we didn't go as strong as we could with some particular shots. They've got a good backline that alters shots. Give them credit on a lot of 'em."
But not on all of them.
KU as a team hit 41.1 percent of its shots.
"I don't think uncontested layups were (credited to) UCLA's defense," Self said, forcing a smile.
The Jayhawks, who made just five of 11 free throws, led 29-23 on a Darnell Jackson dunk with 4:30 left in the first half.
However, he missed a free-throw try, which signaled the start of KU's woes.
Arron Afflalo (24 points, 10-of-15 shooting, 3-of-7 threes) scored four points in a 12-2 half-closing run that gave the Bruins a 35-31 lead at the break.
Russell Robinson missed a layup on one end, and Josh Shipp iced a three on the other at the halftime buzzer.
Quite a turnaround heading into the locker room.
"If we get one stop, we go in down one. Probably a little different feeling," Self said.
"We had a key letdown at the end of the half," Chalmers indicated.
Led by Afflalo's seven points, UCLA rolled, 11-4, to start the second half and led, 46-35, with 13:29 remaining.
"The big thing is, we missed a lot of easy layups, ones we normally make," said Robinson, who hit four of eight shots and finished with 11 points and five steals in 32 minutes. "That killed our spirits. When we did score, they answered back."
One big answer came from Afflalo, who drilled a three with 10:11 left just as KU had sliced its 11-point deficit to 46-40.
Afflalo then hit a two to follow a Robinson three, and UCLA maintained a 51-43 lead at 9:36.
Robinson hit his second three at 5:22, cutting the gap to a manageable 55-50. However, Darren Collison launched in a 25-footer to beat the shot clock with 4:42 to play as UCLA led, 58-50.
"Collison hit a step-back three. It sealed the deal there," Rush said.
KU would not come closer than seven points again.
"Collison almost fell down," Self said. "To me, it seemed like they were making harder shots than they were missing."
While crediting UCLA - "They've got a good team, I'm happy for them," Rush said - the Jayhawks bemoaned what might have been.
Missing layups and free throws while throwing the ball out of bounds is no way to end a season.
"It's tough to swallow," Robinson said. "You are always thinking, 'We'll be back. We'll get back in the game and win like we always do.' To not come back and win, it's really disappointing."
"It's really disappointing," said Jackson, who had eight points with four boards in 14 minutes. He hit all three of his shots, but just two of five free throws.
"In Chicago (in winning two tourney games), I said we'd make it all the way to the Final Four. You can't wish it. You've got to go get it. It just wasn't our night. You can't make bad decisions like we did when the game is on the line."
Self, who figures to return every player except possibly Rush next season, tried to stay positive after the contest.
"I told the guys I was proud of them and that they were great ambassadors for Kansas," Self said. "One thing we have to do is be stronger as a team and become more consistent perimeter shooters. You do that by getting in the gym and working.
"We had a good season and accomplished a lot of things we set out to accomplish. A lot of talented kids sacrificed for the program. We're disappointed now, but I told them to hold their heads up high."