The KU basketball season opener has arrived. In a season that has been remade and rescheduled, the Jayhawks settled on No. 1 Gonzaga for their season opener. Ranked at No. 6 in the preseason, the Jayhawks finished last year at No. 1 in the country, while the Zags were right behind them at No. 2.
In Thursday’s season-opener, Gonzaga emerged victorious, 102-90. The game was tied at several points in the second half before the Bulldogs pulled away.
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For Thursday’s game, the Jayhawks rolled with a starting five of: Marcus Garrett (senior), Ochai Agbaji (junior), Jalen Wilson (redshirt-freshman), Christian Braun (sophomore) and David McCormack (junior). Of that group, Wilson’s spot was the least settled, and KU coach Bill Self even said in his pre-game radio interview that it pretty much came down to “a coin flip” between Wilson getting the start and five-star freshman Bryce Thompson.
“I’m [starting] Jalen Wilson today because we are expecting Gonzaga to start big but those two are a coin flip, honestly,” Self told the KU broadcast.
Here’s a look back at Thursday’s KU basketball game…
1st half updates (20:00):
The Jayhawks opened the game with a bucket from Agbaji, who scored in the mid-range off the bounce. However, McCormack fouled inside on the defensive possession and had a turnover on an offense trip later on. Garrett also had an early turnover against press, as the action remained close early on.
Self went to his bench early, turning to Thompson and redshirt-senior Mitch Lightfoot. But the Zags controlled the early action, forcing a KU timeout before the first media timeout. Gonzaga 14, Kansas 6 (16:18)
U-16 media timeout
Braun gave the Jayhawks a 3-point make to cut the deficit to five, but the Bulldogs pushed their advantage out to 11, with almost all the scoring coming from the interior. Grant-Foster received his first game action for KU and knocked down a 3, but the Bulldogs stretched out their lead even further. Gonzaga 27, Kansas 15 (11:36)
U-12 media timeout:
Self continued to look to his bench for answers, as Enaruna got his first game action of the season. Thompson knocked down a jumper for the first points of his KU career. The Jayhawks cut the lead to single digits. Gonzaga 32, Kansas 25 (7:55)
U-8 media timeout:
The Jayhawks continued to pull closer, with Agbaji scoring to get the team within five. Gonzaga continued to run in transition, but an Enaruna bucket kept the margin at five, at least momentarily. The Jayhawks, however, called a timeout at the 5:52 mark as the lead was stretched to 9. The teams exchanged 3s before the U-4 timeout. Gonzaga 43, Kansas 34 (3:37)
U-4 media timeout:
The Zags eclipsed the 67-percent shooting mark as a team late in the first half. However, Agbaji’s shooting kept the game close, as he upped his total to 13 points. The Jayhawks also turned to a five-guard lineup with Wilson at the five. At the half, the margin between the two teams was eight points.
Halftime: Gonzaga 54, Kansas 46
2nd half (20:00):
The Jayhawks wasted little time in tying the game. Thompson drilled a 3, McCormack twice scored inside and Garrett scored at the rim. Thompson had a steal on the other end, and Wilson hit a free throw to square the game at 56 at the 17:02 mark. At that point, the Jayhawks were on a 12-2 run. Gonzaga 57, Kansas 56 (15:57)
U-16 media timeout:
Thompson hit a free throw to again tie the game at 57. Then he hit a 2 after a Gonzaga spurt to cut the deficit to three. However, the Bulldogs pushed their lead to seven, prompting a KU timeout. The Jayhawks turned to a five-guard look after the stoppage and pulled closer. Gonzaga 70, Kansas 67 (11:28)
U-12 media timeout:
Facing foul trouble — Agbaji picked up his fourth — Self turned to Grant-Foster, who had only played six minutes to that point. Garrett and Wilson each scored. The Jayhawks went back and forth between a four-guard and five-guard approach, as things moved to the U-8 media timeout. Gonzaga 78, Kansas 73 (7:45)
U-8 media timeout:
The Bulldogs pushed out their lead to double-figures over the next few minutes. McCormack had a particularly rough stretch, missing a long jumper, turning the ball over and not getting back for a defensive rebound. Gonzaga 92, Kansas 78 (4:10)
U-4 media timeout:
A strong-shooting effort carried Gonzaga to the finish. The Jayhawks allowed 100 points for the first-time in a non-overtime game under Self. Self emptied the bench late, putting in Gethro Muscadin, Latrell Jossell and Dajuan Harris.
FINAL: Gonzaga 102, Kansas 90
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Wanting to check out the action live? Here’s the game information for today’s Kansas basketball game:
- Opponent: Gonzaga Bulldogs
- When: Thursday at 12:30 p.m. CT
- Where: Suncoast Credit Union Arena (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
- TV: FOX (FoxSportsGo.com)
- Watch on FUBOTV: Web link here
- BPI: Kansas 50.8-percent likely to win
- Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network (1320 AM/101.7 FM in Lawrence, 810 AM in KC)
- KU Athletics webcast: KUAthletics.com/radio
And here are some stories you can check out before the 12:30 p.m. tip…
- KU’s Marcus Garrett providing stability in year of uncertainty — Link
- Four storylines to watch ahead of 2020-21 KU basketball opener — Link
- Previewing No. 6 KU basketball’s showdown with No. 1 Gonzaga — Link
- Kansas Athletics will not allow fans for KU hoops home opener — Link
- The Drive: Getting ready for the start to KU basketball’s season — Link