It’s another big win for Kansas Basketball on the road against TCU. Here are some key aspects of the win and how it was accomplished.
Kansas basketball avenged their bad late January loss to TCU at The Phog with a display of defensive dominance Monday night. Their 63-58 win moves them one game closer to yet another Big 12 regular season championship and marks their 14th victory of the nation’s leading Quad 1.
In a year filled with huge wins, this shows the limit the Jayhawks have defensively and the high impact their positional players provide. Forward Jalen Wilson struggled and TCU kept them in check for most of the game. But that didn’t matter. At critical juncture, Kansas didn’t budge and they exited Schollmaier Arena with a decision win. There’s a lot to take away from this game, but here are the most important ones.
Defensive Dominance wins the game for the Jayhawks
It wasn’t a completely great game offensively at times, but in a game between two great defensive teams, Kansas made the late plays to win it. The Jayhawks held TCU to 0.84 points per possession and did so by blocking the paint.
Sure, the Horned Frogs played well in transition and held themselves in the game but in the middle they were tortured. Star guards Mike Miles Jr. and Damian Baugh both made two of their ten two-point attempts each and as a team, TCU made just 31 percent of their two-point looks, many of which came close to the basket.
They stopped Miles from taking over the game like he did in the first fight back in January and the Horned Frogs certainly came back to Earth from three-point range after being knocked unconscious from distance in their first fight.
Late in the game, Kansas forced turnovers and Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams made crucial blocks on Baugh to help keep TCU at arm’s length.
Dajuan Harris did incredible work off Miles, McCullar was everywhere and Ernest Udeh was credited for three steals in just 14 minutes of play as Wilson, Gradey Dick and KJ Adams faced foul trouble in the first half.
Despite not having a dominant big protecting the rim, Kansas is fantastic defensively and their efforts on that end of the field helped them escape an upset.
Dick and Harris create quite offensively
Wilson really struggled offensively. He scored just seven points (averaging 20 per game) on 3-11 shooting from the field. But that didn’t matter because Dick and Harris provided enough to get the win.
Dick started early and gave the Jayhawks a spark. He scored 10 of the first 12 and single-handedly provided all offensive production in the first ten minutes. Lui finished with a season-high 19 points and made enough early shots to keep Kansas from finding themselves in a double-digit hole.
For Harris, it showed another wonderful night of general availability on the floor. He had eight assists and zero turnovers, while also scoring six points (including a much-needed late-game layup). Harris is one of the best point guards in all of college basketball with his passing ability and it showed against TCU. Whether it was motioning freshman MJ Rice to run across the floor before threading the needle with a bouncy pass to give him a quick counterattack or beautifully orchestrating a high screen to lob Udeh for an emphatic slam, Harris was in complete control of this crime.
The Horned Frogs did a great job of forcing live turnovers in the first half to get on the break. Still, Harris’ ability to hit high-stakes passes knowing even when not to hit a pass in traffic was one of the biggest changes from the first half to the second half.
Kansas adds another impressive win to the best résumé in the nation
ESPN’s Sean Farnham was 100% right Sunday night when he said that Kansas should be the supposed number one seed overall. Houston and Alabama have excellent resumes but there is none in the nation that is better than Kansas.
Following their win against TCU, the Jayhawks are now an astounding 14-5 in Quad 1 games. Their 14 Quad 1 wins are by far the most in the nation, with Purdue second with nine. This is a surprising gap. Their average NET ranking of opponents they beat is 76, highest in the nation with second closest being Alabama at 96, another big gap!
The win against TCU is their seventh true road win of the season. Four of those seven true away victories came against teams ranked in the top 40 in NET. Of all the teams with at least seven true road victories this season, only Kansas has four or more true road victories against teams in the top 40 in NET. Alabama is the next closest with three.
Kansas is posting a resume like this while also having the strength of the number one ranked program. The Jayhawks are the number one seed overall as of now and with each impressive win, they look more and more likely to be the first repeat champion since Florida in the mid-2000s.