Kansas Jayhawks season ends with 89-68 loss to Gonzaga Bulldogs in NCAA tournament

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — The Kansas Jayhawks suffered a season-ending defeat to the Gonzaga Bulldogs Saturday afternoon, losing 89-68 to eliminate KU from the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in the second round.

This is the second straight year Kansas has been eliminated in the second round, and 21 points is the second-most lopsided Jayhawks tournament loss in program history.

The second half, in particular, was disastrous for Kansas.

No. 4 seed KU led by one at halftime, shooting 50% from the floor and 63.6% from three-point range before the break. Issues with its defense were apparent early, however, with fifth-seeded Gonzaga shooting 55.9% from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

After halftime, though, is when the floodgates opened.

The Bulldogs outscored the Jayhawks 46-24 in the second half, mixing in a 15-0 run while shooting 66.7% from the floor and making 5-of-6 attempts from three. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, made just 27.8% of their second-half shot attempts.

“Our program over time has taken great pride in being able to defend and rebounds and doing things that are important to any team winning, but it’s probably been stuff we’ve probably excelled in over time as much as just about anybody has,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It’s disappointing today that there was absolutely no sign of being able to slow them down.”

Senior center Hunter Dickinson led KU in scoring with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting in the loss. He also had just five rebounds, tied for his second fewest in a game this season.

While Dickinson and the Jayhawks had a quick turnaround from the first-round win over the Samford Bulldogs to Saturday’s game, just about 38 hours, he said that’s no excuse for what happened in the second round.

“If they were good enough to go out there and play two halves, we should been able to do the same,” Dickinson said.

Senior guard Dajuan Harris and junior forward K.J. Adams each scored 10 points on Saturday, though it took 12 shots for each of them to get there. Harris also tallied 11 assists, tying his career high and pushing him into fourth in Kansas history ahead of Kirk Hinrich.

Anton Watson was Gonzaga’s leading scorer, going 8-of-11 from the floor for 21 points.

With the loss, a uniquely challenging season for Kansas comes to a close. While this isn’t the first time the Jayhawks have been a four seed in the NCAA tournament, their 11 losses this year is the most they’ve had since they went 19-12 in their first season under Roy Williams in 1988-89.

For Self, preparations for next season and the future of the program are already coming into focus, as are the flaws which led to this season’s struggles.

“We could have done a much better job as a staff of putting more guys out there that we could play, and that’s something that I’ve thought about for a long time,” Self said, adding: “When you don’t have as much firepower that maybe you’ve had in past years, in certainly showed this year.”

Gonzaga will play either the Purdue Boilermakers or Utah State Aggies in the Sweet 16 next weekend.

For more on the Kansas Jayhawks’ 89-68 loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, check out 580 Sports Talk Monday afternoon from 2-6 on 580 WIBW.