USC hands Kansas 34-point loss, third worst in Jayhawks program history

INDIANAPOLIS – USC defeated No. 3 Kansas 85-51 on Monday night to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, giving the Hawks their third consecutive defeat in program history.

Prior to Monday’s game, Kansas had lost just eight games by 30 points in program history, the most recent being a 72-40 loss against Kentucky in 2014.

We couldn’t have done better, Kansas coach Bill Self said. And I’m sure [USC coach] Andy [Enfield] would say it was definitely one of their better games. It was a bad combination for us.

The Jayhawks, a basketball program with a rich tradition, have played nearly 3,200 games without ever setting foot on the floor of Hinkle Fieldhouse, the cathedral of basketball made famous by the Hollywood movie Hoosiers. The way they played Monday night, they don’t want to take a step back.

Kansas missed its first eight shots, most of which were wide open, and never led during the game. The most unanswered kills by the Jayhawks was just 5 points.

Biggest losses in Kansas history

Date Border area Enemy
2. March 1900. -40 Nebraska
23. December 1974 -37 Kentucky
Monday -34 USC
— ESPN Stats and Information

I think their length played tricks on us, but our shot selection was poor, Self said. We haven’t been a great tackling team all year, and tonight I felt like we made some small mistakes when we were a little rushed and didn’t play well.

Kansas could not mount an offense, no matter what USC showed on defense. Kansas was particularly bad against the zone, shooting 7-of-30 from the field for 21 points.

The Jayhawks’ 51 points are the fewest in an NCAA Tournament game since they scored 49 against Ohio in the 1985 round (Kansas won the game 49-38).

Offensively, USC could do nothing wrong. The sixth-ranked Trojans made 11 of 18 three-pointers Monday and 13 of 24 from beyond the arc.

Kansas has 6 of 34 shots on goal. OSC made 22 of 39 athletic shots, including 6 of 7 three-pointers, from 50-point range.

Kansas senior guard Marcus Garrett summed it up: I feel like we failed today. We picked the wrong day to not shoot, and the other team did everything they did.

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Self said he thought there was less room for error on this team than on any other team I’ve coached here.

I think our guys used their skills well, but we didn’t have much room for error, he continued. If we played in a way that the ball stuck or we got into one-on-ones or whatever, we didn’t play together, we didn’t help each other, we became very mediocre or even bad like tonight.

I think we learned that there’s a certain way to play. If you play like that, you can be successful. But if we don’t, we quickly become average or below average. We felt like a team in January today. When we fell behind and got frustrated, we didn’t have enough strength to do anything and play a game.

Kansas’ worst loss in the NCAA Tournament to date was an 18-point loss to Indiana in the 1940 national championship when Fog Allen was coach of the Jayhawks.

USC will take on third-seeded Oregon in the round of 16 on Sunday. This will be the first meeting between Pac-12 teams in NCAA tournament history.

ESPN News & Stats and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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