St. Joseph’s offense came out like a well-oiled machine. The ball was moving like a hot potato. Kansas players couldn’t get positioned defensively, and the Hawks were getting and knocking down easy shots.
After scoring 25 points in the first 10 minutes of the first half, the Hawks scored only 11 in the final 10, and their struggles carried into the second half. Kansas upped its defensive effort and stalled the Hawks’ offense in a 94-72 victory at the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
“We have some really good one-on-one players, but one-on-one off an isolated dribble is not at all how we want to play in most situations,” head coach Billy Lange said. “We just did that too much, and also Kansas’ defense deserves credit.”
St. Joe’s trailed 44-36 at halftime but started the second half on a 10-0 run in the first two minutes. A Dahmir Bishop three-pointer gave the Hawks a 49-48 lead, but Kansas answered with a 26-8 run and never trailed again.
The Hawks’ stagnant ball movement led to easy transition opportunities for Kansas. The Jayhawks had a 35-11 advantage in fast-break points and a 28-9 advantage in free throw attempts.
Before the season, Lange highlighted Bishop’s shooting as one of his areas of needed improvement. He’s been one of the Hawks’ best shooters. Bishop shot 4-for-7 from three against Auburn, then made 4 of 8 threes in a 14-point performance against Kansas. Jack Forrest led the Hawks with 18 points, and Ryan Daly added 14.
“Confidence is really key to all, so me hitting those shots is going to take me a long way,” Bishop said. “Me playing with confidence, I feel like, is a dangerous thing.”
Outside of Forrest, the Hawks bench combined to shoot 4-for-13 from the field. Cameron Brown and Rahmir Moore both struggled for the second consecutive game. They have combined to score seven points through two games.
“I’m not intensely concerned,” Lange said. “We want them to stay on the attack. We believe in those guys, and we’ll continue to ask them to be aggressive.”
The schedule doesn’t get much easier going forward. A game against No. 3 Villanova is next. The game is moved to Wednesday instead of the original Monday date, the Fox Sports broadcast announced.
“I think our guys are going to walk out of here with hope that we’re learning, we’re not ducking anyone, we’re taking big-time chances, we’re taking big-time risks,” Lange said. “There is honor in the way we competed out here today.”
Fousseyni Drame scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds as St. Peter’s defeated visiting La Salle 62-51, Friday night.
Daryl Banks III had 14 points for St. Peter’s (1-1). K.C. Ndefo added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Matthew Lee had 10 assists.
Scott Spencer had 11 points for the Explorers (0-2). Jhamir Brickus added 10 points, and Ayinde Hikim had six assists.