With a variety of defensive looks, Stanford planted a seed of doubt with seemingly every Kansas offensive set.
“We threw a lot of looks at them, 2-3, man, 1-3-1,” Cardinal forward Josh Huestis said. “By doing that, we kept them guessing and frustrated.”
Enough to send the Jayhawks to a 60-57 defeat Sunday in an NCAA Tournament game that, from their perspective, was shaped by offensive failures.
“That’s what happens when you’re not real confident sometimes or individuals are not confident,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
With shooting or ball movement.
“Things are open, but you’re a little hesitant to throw it,” Self said.
Kansas couldn’t respond inside or outside, and its missed shots defined the day long before freshman guard Conner Frankamp, who combined with senior forward Tarik Black for 30 points, was wide on his off-balance three-point attempt that ended the game.
Which shot best illustrated how KU’s day went?
Andrew Wiggins’ three-point attempt that was halfway down, or his missed drive from nearly point-blank range? Perry Ellis getting behind the defense for a lob layup, only to clank it?
So many bricks. Kansas shot a miserable 32.1 percent in the first half (nine for 28) and wasn’t much better in the second (10 for 30) for a 32.8-percent shooting day.
Uncertainty seemed to follow every ball that left a Kansas shooter’s hand.
“A team like Kansas, you have to get into their heads and make them question the shots they did take,” Huestis said.
Containing Wiggins, the Jayhawks’ scoring leader, was the biggest accomplishment. He entered the game averaging 17.4 points per game and finished with four points on one-of-six shooting and two free throws.
When the Cardinal went to man defense, Huestis drew Wiggins as an assignment, and to limit him to six shots was the biggest triumph.
“We wanted to be physical with him,” Huestis said. “And make it difficult for him to even catch the ball. Six shots. Our game plan was perfect.”
Wiggins rarely found himself in a position to score, and his path to the basket was made treacherous by long defenders.
Stanford also collapsed and went for the ball when Wiggins attempted to attack the basket. The likely final college game for Wiggins, the top-rated freshman entering the season, contained a miserable stat line that included as many turnovers as points.
“We knew where he was on the floor at all times,” Stanford guard Chasson Randle said.
For Randle and Stanford, the outcome came with an additional measure of satisfaction. At Saturday’s news conference, Wiggins and teammate Wayne Selden Jr. put their heads down and appeared to giggle when asked about Randle, Stanford’s top scorer.
The Kansas players hadn’t been given the scouting report, Self explained. Still, tape of the exchange was played for the Cardinal. Stanford players said they were told not to talk about it.
“I definitely took it as a challenge,” said Randle, who finished with 13 points, six steals and seven turnovers. “So did my teammates. It wasn’t just a stab at me, it was a stab at our team, and it was a little extra motivation for today’s game.”