- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- American basketball player
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — There were fans who likely thought the game was over, maybe even some coaches or players, too, but Christian Braun didn’t.
Braun had just watched his Kansas teammate, David McCormack, block a potential game-winning shot by Dayton’s Malachi Smith. There were only about five seconds left in the game when it happened, and the Jayhawks led the Flyers 73-72. But Braun didn’t know where the basketball would go.
So Braun kept playing. He defended the Dayton player — Mustapha Amzil — who grabbed the loose ball. He forced that Flyers player to take a fall-away, two-point jumper just before time would expire in the second half.
And despite the quality defense Braun played, defense that nearly forced Amzil to pass the ball away, the shot fell. It bounced off the rim, and then the backboard, before dropping through the net as time expired. Dayton upset Kansas on Friday in the ESPN Events Invitational, and handed Jayhawks head coach Bill Self and company a 74-73 defeat.
“That was a battle,” Flyers head coach Anthony Grant said. “That was a heck of a game. Give Kansas credit, man, they’re a heck of a team. Our guys have a tremendous amount of respect for who they are, what they represent.”
Kansas (4-1) joined Alabama as the second top-10 team at the event to suffer an upset defeat against an unranked opponent. The Jayhawks led by as many as 15 points in the first half, before allowing the Flyers to storm back in the second. Dayton (3-3) even led by as many as seven points with less than 10 minutes remaining, until Kansas regrouped enough to force that final possession.
The Jayhawks couldn’t take enough of an advantage of the Flyers committing 20 turnovers and struggling to hit both 3s and free throws. Self watched his team have its own issues with attempts from the free-throw line and from behind the arc. Kansas out-scored Dayton by 11 when it came to points off of turnovers, and still didn’t win.
McCormack struggled to find consistency once more, despite the flashes of talent he showcased. Ochai Agbaji’s 21 points weren’t enough for the Jayhawks, nor were Braun’s or Remy Martin’s 17 points. Martin at times wasn’t the defensive presence Kansas needs him to be, and too often in the second half the Flyers were able to get to the basket for easy looks.
The Jayhawks didn’t have the post presence Self thinks they need right now, whether it’s offensively or defensively. It’s something that puts pressure on Braun and Agbaji to deliver inside as larger guards.
“The main thing is to stay together,” Agbaji said. “It’s a long season, like coach is saying, a lot more games, a lot more chances to get on the court to get better. So, it’s one loss but down the road we’re going to look back and we’re going to learn or see that we gained a lot from this.”
This isn’t the first time that Dayton has challenged Kansas in a setting like this. Back in an invitational in Hawaii during the 2019-20 season, the Jayhawks and Flyers went to overtime before Kansas earned that victory. This year, it was simply Dayton that came out on top.
Agbaji could sense the energy from the crowd from the moment he and his teammates stepped onto the floor for the first time. Grant praised the energy of both crowds postgame.
Moving forward, the Jayhawks have multiple areas they can focus on to improve. On Sunday they’ll face Iona, and in December wrap up the bulk of what remains of Kansas’ non-conference slate before Big 12 Conference play begins in January.
“It’s a marathon,” Self said. “The team that we had today won’t be the team that we have in February or whatever. It may not be the team that we have the first of January. It’s a — we haven’t become a team yet, but I do think we’re gaining on it. I do think that there’s some things that have happened, that through some experiences like this will probably accelerate the learning curve and get us, maybe, to all buy in a little bit differently.”
Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas basketball upset by Dayton, 74-73, in ESPN Events Invitational