Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

s best turnover team

December 9, 2001


Forcing turnovers was the forte of UMKC's men's basketball team during a five-game winning streak to start the season.

The Kangaroos forced nearly twice as many turnovers as they committed over that stretch (81-42) and their 8.4 per-game average led the nation.

Kansas University turned the tables Saturday, though, forcing 19 Kangaroo miscues with an aggressive and pressuring defense in a 79-68 victory.

"I thought they probably forced 10 turnovers with runs, jumps and traps," UMKC coach Rich Zvosec said, "and we shot ourselves in the foot eight times. If it's 10 instead of 18, maybe they get a little nervous, but that's one of those things we've got to learn against a team of this caliber."

Twelve of UMKC's turnovers came on Jayhawk steals, more than twice the average of the Kangaroos' previous opponents.

"The have great one-on-one ball pressure," sophomore guard Michael Watson said. "To beat the No. 4 team in the country you have to play a perfect game. Tonight we didn't play a perfect game and that's why we're leaving with an L."

While Kansas was playing tough defense, the Kangaroos were having their own problems in that area. KU shot 50 percent overall 65.4 percent in the first half to the Kangaroos' 43 percent.

UMKC was outrebounded, 37-30, also.

The Kangaroos kept the game close even with turnover and defensive trouble, never falling behind by more than 19 points.

"I'm very pleased and satisfied that our guys fought until the fight was done," Zvosec said. "They worked at it and that was big because certainly, when the lead grew big, they could have packed their tents and went home but they fought to the end and that's very important for us."

Watson was one of the strongest fighters at the end, scoring eight of the Kangaroos' final 12 points, including a three-pointer with Kirk Hinrich in his face. The Kansas City (Mo.) Central High School product finished with 29 points, tying his career high set earlier this season.

Watson was not impressed though.

"Twenty-nine points is out the window because we got the (loss)," he said. "They're still the No. 4 team in the nation and we're going home 5-1."

Kansas coach Roy Williams had kinder words about Watson's performance.

"He had a heck of a game," KU coach Roy Williams said. "When a guy scores 29 against you it does impress you. He really is good player and appears to be a nice young man, too."

One thing that did impress UMKC was the atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse.

"It was everything we expected and more," Watson said. "They have great fans and great student support. It's the loudest gym we've played in so far this year."

Senior forward Michael Jackson said the team wasn't intimidated by the Jayhawks though.

"They're players just like us," he said. "They're just ranked a little higher than we are. I mean, a lot higher."

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