The long-awaited return of college basketball certainly delivered, even if it meant a 102-90 loss for the Kansas men’s basketball team.
No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 6 Kansas traded punches for much of the second half before the former delivered the knockout blow over the final eight minutes of the contest. The Bulldogs’ juggernaut offense was simply too much to overcome for the Jayhawks on Thursday in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off in Fort Myers, Florida.
With 10:18 left in the game, Kansas senior Marcus Garrett netted a layup to pull his team within a 72-71 margin. The Jayhawks found some success with their five-guard lineup of Garrett, Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson, Bryce Thompson and Ochai Agbaji and seemed to be within striking distance because of it.
Gonzaga’s length ultimately overwhelmed Kansas, however. The Bulldogs scored 6 unanswered points to create some cushion. Their lead eventually ballooned out to an 85-73 advantage, and the nation’s No. 1 team was in complete control after that.
It marked the most points allowed by Kansas in a non-overtime game in the Bill Self era.
Gonzaga (1-0) finished with 62 points in the paint in the win. Drew Timme paced the Bulldogs with 25 points, finishing as one of three players with 20-plus points. Jalen Suggs finished with 24 points in his collegiate debut, while Corey Kispert poured in 23 points.
Garrett led KU (0-1) with 22 points in a losing effort, shooting 7-of-9 from the floor.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• Defensive highlight: Five-star freshman Bryce Thompson was as advertised in his Jayhawk debut.
Thompson didn’t end up in the starting rotation even though he was believed to be in the mix. He did get first dibs on the floor to begin the second half, thanks to his strong play in the first half.
Thompson came through with a big-time block in the first half, and provided strong defensive play for much of the game. He brought the energy off the bench, and had a feel for the game that seemed so rare for a freshman.
Having Marcus Garrett and Bryce Thompson in the same backcourt should create problems for opposing Big 12 squads. After Thursday’s showing, Thompson might get a crack at the starting rotation in the near future.
• Offensive highlight: Thursday’s game certainly lived up to the hype.
The Jayhawks were down by as many 14 in the first half before clawing their way back and making it a game down the stretch. It ended up being a back-and-forth battle between two of the best teams in college basketball. Not a bad way to spend Thanksgiving, huh?
Perhaps no stretch illustrated that better than than a sequence midway through the second half. The Bulldogs missed a shot at the rim, and Thompson ended up with an open look on the other end. The only way it could have been a bigger sequence was if Thompson got his foot behind the 3-point line.
Expect the freshman to learn from that mistake.
• Up next: Kansas will face Saint Joseph's at 1 p.m. Friday to conclude the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off.