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#22 USC vs. #4 Kansas Review

Final Score: #22 USC 55, #4 Kansas 59
Current Record: 6-2
Current Ranking: #24 (AP)
Next Up: Memphis - 12/04 (Tues.)

It was a sloppy and disappointing game, but the team battled and kept it close to the end. I said in my game preview that Mario Chalmers would be a "major determining factor" in the game, and that he was; he led the Jayhawks with 20 points and hit a ridiculously clutch shot from several feet beyond the 3-point line with 24 seconds to play to ice the game. Here are my positives/negatives:

Positives

  • How about the outcome of the game? Despite playing sloppy (I'm amazed that we only had 18 turnovers), we were within a 2-point basket from tying up the game with less than 30 seconds to play against the #4 team in the nation. Let's remember that this is a young team comprised of freshmen and sophomores and we went to the wire against one of the most talented and experienced teams in the nation. That can definitely be seen as a positive.
  • Up until this game, Kansas was averaging 89 points and hadn't shot below 50% from the field; on Sunday, Kansas put up 59 points and shot 37.9% for the game. Our team defense continues to be the strength of this team and I thought we did a great job in the 1st half. Coach Floyd made the right call using our big men to come out and bump the Kansas guards to prevent penetration off picks and allow our team time to rotate. We really couldn't have played better defensively when you consider the circumstances.
Negatives
  • Once again our FT shooting was pitiful. We shot 55.6% from the line, going 10 for 18, and nearly half of those misses came with less than 10 minutes to play. I said from the start of the season that our FT percentage wouldn't fly against elite teams and in this game it showed.
  • Taj had yet another terrible game scoring 2 points off a garbage gimme lay-up and fouling out for the 2nd straight game. Some people think Taj's poor play comes from his ankle injury, but I still believe it is entirely mental. He is trying too hard to do things that aren't natural to him yet. The fact that he's trying to shoot going right with his back to the basket alone tells me he's forcing it. On the defensive end, he still isn't boxing out on many of his rebounds, which is entirely mental and has nothing to do with his ankle injury. Even my friend, who I converted into a SC basketball fan this season, turned to me during the game and said, "They need to take #22 out cause he's taking dumb fouls and just standing around down low." Of course because of his limited knowledge of the team he didn't know that Taj is still our best rebounder whether he boxes out or not, but the point still stands...
  • Kansas did a great job pressuring our players as soon as they touched the ball. They were very active with their hands slapping away balls when our players carelessly held them within arm's distance or lazily dribbled up court. You could see this pressure really getting to players like Dwight Lewis, who had a really bad game, and was pulled at the end by Coach Floyd.
  • Some have criticized O.J. for taking too many shots, but I only agree to an extent. I have no problem with O.J. taking a lot of shots as long as they are smart ones, but it's the Kobe-like make-one-shot-then-force-another that is a problem. O.J. has to learn that he can't swing momentum by himself and that even after a big 3 he needs to take shots as they come and not try to be the hero by taking it upon his own shoulders to create another.
  • Should I be surprised that the student section resorted to a pathetic "Lodrick's better!" chant? It's further proof that the current students have almost no basketball knowledge or creativity. Maybe they forgot that Lodrick/Rodrick's dad, Bull Stewart, wants his younger set of twins, Hikeem and Kadeem, to play under Tim Floyd one day. I'm sure Bull looks fondly upon the way Rodrick was undeservingly booed and mocked yesterday.
The team is already in NYC right now preparing for tomorrow's game against Memphis at the Madison Square Garden. I will have a game preview up later today.