University of Kansas

No. 7 KU breaks road skid, wipes out TCU 75-56

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (center) steals the ball from TCU forward Karviar Shepherd (right) as Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) joins the break during Saturday’s Big 12 game in Fort Worth.
Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (center) steals the ball from TCU forward Karviar Shepherd (right) as Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) joins the break during Saturday’s Big 12 game in Fort Worth. AP

Three years ago Saturday, Bill Self sat inside a back room here at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum and tried to put the most embarrassing night of his coaching career into words. It was Feb. 6, 2013, and a Kansas team replete with veterans had taken one on the chin against a lowly and under-manned TCU squad, still acclimating to the contours of Big 12 basketball. It was, by almost all metrics and ranking systems, one of the biggest upsets in modern college basketball history, and with no earthly way to explain the performance, Self went the historical route.

“It was the worst team that Kansas has ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was there,” Self said. “I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA and things like that in the first couple years.”

Three years later, back inside a building with a new name (Schollmaier Arena) and spit-shining from a $80 million face-lift, Kansas buried its recent road troubles by flipping the script on TCU. For 40 minutes Saturday, the Jayhawks made TCU’s offense look like it was the one representing the Topeka YMCA. As Kansas put a workmanlike 75-56 victory in the books, the Jayhawks held the Horned Frogs, 10-13, to just 28.6 percent shooting and 14 total field goals.

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In some respects, it was not an overly smooth or dominating performance — Self would confide after that the margin might have been greater if his team had made more open shots — but for a program that had lost three straight road games and hadn’t left a opponent’s venue happy since Jan. 9, it was the equivalent of a shot of Red Bull.

“We’re on the back nine of the league race,” Self said. “And so everything is magnified and you got to take advantage of every opportunity.”

Senior forward Perry Ellis finished with 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham added 15 points while drilling three three-pointers. Self touted senior forward Jamari Traylor as the game’s most important player, praising his energy, hustle plays and balanced line — six points and seven rebounds.

“I think Jamari was key from an energy standpoint,” Self said.

The Jayhawks, 19-4 and 7-3 in the Big 12, built a 38-20 lead at halftime and drained the life from the building with its suffocating brand of defense. They did so without a fully healthy Wayne Selden, who was battling flu-like symptoms, Self said, and had just three points in 22 minutes.

By late in the second half, Kansas fans out-numbered Horned Frogs, and the “Rock Chalk” chant echoed off the arena’s walls. But for Self and the Jayhawks, the result was largely about context, and in this instance, that context is about what lies ahead. The victory sets the stage for a pivotal week; the Jayhawks will return home to face West Virginia on Tuesday before traveling to Oklahoma for a rematch of their triple-overtime tour de force at Allen Fieldhouse. Both West Virginia and Oklahoma entered Saturday atop the Big 12 with identical 7-2 records.

“We’re getting down to the wire,” Traylor said. “Every game matters. We dropped a couple games early in the beginning of the conference (season). But our destiny is in our own hands. We just got to win games.”

If Kansas’ streak of 11 straight Big 12 championships is going to survive the spring, the Jayhawks will likely need at least a split this week. But first, of course, they had to start winning on the road. So three days after Self made headlines by questioning his team’s toughness — and blasting junior Brannen Greene’s sportsmanship — following a home victory over K-State, the Jayhawks responded with one of their more focused performances in recent weeks.

Kansas won the rebounding battle 46-25; Ellis and Traylor controlled the paint; and Graham punctuated a first-half run by diving across the floor for a loose ball and starting a sequence that led to a three-point play from Ellis. The run, which ballooned the lead to 24 with 2:31 left in the first half, came just minutes after Self picked up a technical foul for bickering with the officials over the foul count.

“We did play pretty efficiently in the first half," Self said. "I thought early on, we were really good, we just didn’t make shots.”

Self added: “I thought we rebounded the ball more like men tonight.”

By late Saturday afternoon, the KU traveling party was streaming out a back exit of Schollmaier Arena, where a large crowd of Kansas fans had congregated near the Jayhawks’ bus. Ellis stopped for a moment and posed for a photo.

“You’ve been dunking like a madman,” a Kansas fan said.

In almost every measurable way, Saturday was a victory for Kansas. But the real challenge could await this week.

“This is the biggest week that we’ve had,” Self said. “Of course, we’ve had some big weeks already. But this is the biggest week to date. And we get a chance to play a team that handled us pretty easily. And we get a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country. Our guys should be pretty jacked for this week.”

No. 7 KANSAS 75, TCU 56

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

KANSAS

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Lucas

11

2-2

4-4

0-3

1

4

8

Ellis

34

11-14

1-1

1-10

3

1

23

Mason III

39

3-11

5-6

0-4

6

2

12

Selden Jr

22

1-5

1-2

1-3

5

4

3

Graham

27

6-10

0-0

1-4

3

2

15

Mykhailiuk

24

1-5

0-0

1-1

0

0

3

Traylor

15

3-6

0-0

5-7

0

5

6

Bragg Jr

10

0-1

0-0

2-5

0

3

0

Diallo

10

1-1

0-0

1-5

0

2

2

Vick

4

1-2

0-0

0-0

0

1

3

Mickelson

2

0-1

0-0

1-1

0

1

0

Self

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Greene

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

TEAM

   

1-3

   

Totals

200

29-58

11-13

14-46

18

25

75

Percentages: FG .500, FT .846. Three-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (Graham 3-6, Vick 1-1, Mykhailiuk 1-3, Mason III 1-5, Bragg Jr. 0-1, Ellis 0-2, Selden Jr. 0-4). Blocked Shots: 5 (Ellis 2, Diallo, Mykhailiuk, Traylor). Turnovers: 14 (Lucas 3, Ellis 3, Mason III 3, Diallo 2, Selden Jr., Bragg Jr.). Steals: 4 (Graham 2, Diallo, Selden Jr.). Technical Fouls: Bench.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

TCU

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Abron

6

0-0

3-4

2-2

0

2

3

Washburn

19

1-5

3-6

1-4

0

4

5

Collins

34

2-6

4-5

0-4

1

4

10

Trent

24

0-5

1-2

0-0

4

0

1

Parrish

27

4-10

4-4

1-2

0

2

13

M Williams

25

1-5

0-2

1-2

2

4

3

Brodziansky

21

2-4

0-0

0-0

0

0

5

Miller

21

3-9

7-8

3-5

2

1

13

Shepherd

19

1-4

1-2

0-2

0

1

3

Shreiner

2

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Dry

2

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

TEAM

   

1-4

   

Totals

200

14-49

23-33

9-25

9

18

56

Percentages: FG .286, FT .697. Three-Point Goals: 5-18, .278 (Collins 2-6, Brodziansky 1-1, M. Williams 1-2, Parrish 1-4, Shreiner 0-1, Trent 0-2, Miller 0-2). Blocked Shots: 3 (Washburn, Miller, Parrish). Turnovers: 10 (Trent 2, Collins 2, Shepherd, Brodziansky, Washburn, Abron, Parrish). Steals: 3 (Washburn, Trent, Collins). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: Kansas 38-20. Attendance: 6,516. Officials: Tom Eades, Darron George, Bret Smith.

AP-WF-02-06-16 1921GMT

Rustin Dodd: 816-234-4937, @rustindodd

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