For the Kansas City Roos, Tuesday night marked the final game of the decade at the Swinney Center. And perhaps Kansas City read this week’s edition of the WAC Hoops Power Rankings and used it as bulletin board material.
Either way, the Roos made sure it was Tuesday night’s game against Toledo was one to remember.
Brandon McKissic scored a team-high 18 points and Kansas City held Toledo to its season-low in points in a 72-57 win on Tuesday night.
The win is the best non-conference win for any WAC team in 2019-20. Coming in, Toledo had a top-100 KenPom ranking at 82. To put it in perspective how big the win was, Kansas City’s KenPom ranking was 273 coming into Tuesday.
Toledo was on an 5-game winning streak coming into Tuesday. And the Rockets high-powered offense averaged nearly 82 points per game. However, the game plan put forth by Kansas City head coach Billy Donlon and his staff was executed to perfection.
The Roos held the Rockets to a season-low 33.3 percent from the field. From the 12:41 mark of the first half, Kansas City held Toledo without a point over the next five minutes of the contest. Kansas City’s defense forced 11 Toledo turnovers in the first half and just 4-of-17 from the field.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” said head coach Billy Donlon. “We’ve been through a lot. When you think of the travel and lack of home games, playing two games during finals week. What these guys did tonight is great, but we can’t celebrate for too long because we are on the road against a good team in South Dakota.”
It was actually a very good all-around game for the Roos. Kansas City dished out 17 assists. McKissic had six of those assists. The Roos had five blocks and five steals. Rebounds were tied at 37 but the Roos had 12 offensive boards that led to 11 second-chance points. Kansas City took care of the ball, committing 11 turnovers in the contest. Kansas City also owned the paint, outscoring Toledo 36-24 in points in the paint.
Perhaps the one thing Billy Donlon won’t be happy about is the free throw shooting. Kansas City was just 9-of-17 at the charity stripe while Toledo was 24-of-35.
Three other Roos were in double figures along with McKissic. Rob Whitfield finished with 16 points. Javan White had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. And Marvin Nesbitt Jr. continued to play well with 10 points and four rebounds on 4-8 from the field.
In addition, one last thing about how big this win was for Kansas City. The Roos came into Tuesday night with that 273 KenPom ranking. Well, on Wednesday morning, Kansas City jumped 29 spots to 244.
Kansas City has one non-conference game left, at South Dakota on Sunday. A win evens the record at 7-7 and gives the Roos a ton of confidence heading into the WAC opener at home against Seattle on Jan. 2.
With a new head coach, 11 new players, and a difficult stretch of games to end the non-conference schedule, Kansas City is a team to keep an eye on come WAC play.