Just two Kansas basketball players hit three-pointers in Tuesday’s 71-64 victory over TCU at Allen Fieldhouse.
They are: Devonté Graham, who knocked down 5 of 9 en route to 24 points, and a more unlikely candidate — Marcus Garrett — who was 2 for 2 from beyond the arc after entering the game as a 21.4-percent three-point marksman.
Normally reliable Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick did not make a three in nine combined attempts, meaning only a pair of Jayhawks accounted for threes in a game for the first time in the 2017-18 campaign.
“I mean they left me open,” said Garrett, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Dallas. He scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting. His previous high in a Big 12 game was six points against Texas Tech on Jan. 2 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“I have practiced it a lot. Tonight it just fell in,” Garrett added.
Garrett has made 9 of his last 10 shots over the last four games.
“”That’s twice in two weeks that he’s been 4-of-4 from the field. He did the same thing against (Texas) A&M,” coach Bill Self said.
Garrett scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting (1-of-1 from three) in a Jan. 27 home win over the Aggies.
“So he’s shooting it better and getting some confidence. I probably should have played him more (than 15 minutes Tuesday), to be honest with you. He’s certainly one of our better defenders,” Self added.
For the year, Garrett has made 39 of 81 shots for 48.1 percent. He’s now 8 of 30 from three for 26.7 percent. He’s made just 12 of 25 free throws for 48 percent.
Garrett’s improved offense definitely was a plus for KU on Tuesday. The Jayhawks won despite converting just three field goals in the final 10:05. TCU had five field goals in that same span.
“They grinded,” Self told the media in referring to the Jayhawks, who improved to 19-5 overall and 8-3 in the Big 12. TCU dropped to 16-8, 4-7.
“Coach came in the locker room and said we needed a grind-it-out win where we could show what we are,” said sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot ,who had four rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal to go with his six points.
Garrett said he had a full understanding of what “grinding” out a victory really means.
“Look at the stats,” he said. “I mean, Svi (0-for-2 shooting, 36 minutes) had one point, Malik (Newman) had four, and we still won. They are two of our best scorers. They didn’t score but we were able to find a way to win. That’s a grind-it-out win right there.”
Self, who preaches aggressive defense, likes when his team claims victories that could be classified as somewhat ugly.
“I thought we competed hard,” Self said. “Even if you don’t play great, if you compete, try and play with energy, you can win a game like that. With our effort on Saturday (in an 84-79 loss to Oklahoma State), that would have been a double-figure loss today.”
KU senior Graham led the way with 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He missed three late free throws and finished 5 of 8 from the line.
“Coach said we needed a game like this, just to grind it out,” said Graham, who contributed six rebounds and five assists in his 40 minutes. “We had to play every possession and Doke (Udoka Azubuike, who had 11 rebounds and 16 points) did a good job of rebounding today. After last game and watching film, we knew we had to come out with a different mind-set defensively, so we just tried to get out and pressure and cause turnovers.”
KU, which went 1-1 on its two-game home stand, will next meet Baylor at 1 p.m. Saturday in Waco, Texas.
“It was fantastic,” Garrett said of playing in front of a loud crowd Tuesday. “The crowd is always the same. We feel like we’ve been letting them down this year, so we’ve got to pick it up. We felt we didn’t give our all in the game Saturday. We knew we had to come out this game, compete and fight and hopefully come out with a win.”
Garrett said intense practices helped the Jayhawks’ cause Tuesday.
“It picked up,” he said of workouts after the Oklahoma State loss. “Everybody came in juiced up, just knowing we weren’t going hard or knowing we weren’t giving our all. Everybody came in to practice. We’re still playing for each other,” he added.