LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas sophomore Perry Ellis is a man of very few words.
Chances are the roughly 16,000 fans chanting his name Saturday could help him out.
Ellis scored a career-high 32 points to lead the seventh-ranked Jayhawks to a 95-65 victory over TCU, and then answered every question posed to him in his typically understated fashion.
Did you feel in a rhythm? ”Definitely felt in a rhythm,” he replied.
What did you think of the chants? ”It felt good, just great fan support,” he said.
Leave it to his teammates to describe the best game of his career.
”He takes good shots in a rhythm, and he always looks for his teammates,” said Andrew Wiggins, who added 17 points. ”He was aggressive all game, attacking the hoop, making 3s. He did everything.”
Ellis also had eight rebounds and five assists while shooting 13 of 15 from the field.
”Fantastic game,” said Wayne Selden Jr., who scored 15 for the Jayhawks.
Playing without injured center Joel Embiid and suspended forward Brannen Greene, Kansas (19-6, 10-2 Big 12) got off to a slow start but still managed to take a 47-40 lead into the break. The Jayhawks then used a 13-1 charge out of the locker room to put away the Horned Frogs.
TCU (9-15, 0-12) still has not won since knocking off Texas Southern on Dec. 29.
Kyan Anderson did all he could, scoring 21 of his 25 points in the first half. Amric Fields added 12 points, but otherwise a team that’s been depleted by injuries much of the season wasn’t able to hang with the impressive depth of the Jayhawks.
”You know what? I thought we competed as well as we have for a while,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. ”Kyan did a really, really good job of keeping us in the game in the first half, but they’re really good. They’re really good.”
Embiid, who has emerged as one of the nation’s top NBA prospects, has been dealing with ankle and back injuries that have limited his floor time the last several weeks. He didn’t practice in the run-up to TCU and wound up watching from the bench, though he routinely leaped out of his seat to celebrate the myriad of alley-oop dunks that highlighted the Jayhawks’ second half.
Self said he should be available Tuesday at Texas Tech.
Greene, a freshman swingman, also is expected back after sitting out for what Self called ”a slippage from a responsibility standpoint.”
Reserve forward Jamari Traylor got back on the court for Kansas and finished with a career-high 10 points and eight rebounds. The sophomore was held out of Monday night’s overtime loss to Kansas State for what Self also had described as irresponsible behavior. The two of them spoke Thursday and Self decided to let Traylor play.
Self turned to Traylor when Tarik Black, who started in Embiid’s place, picked up two fouls in the opening 2 minutes. It was part of a miserable early stretch for Kansas that included a 1-for-7 performance from the foul line and very little defense.
Of course, the Horned Frogs had a hand in that performance.
Anderson was 7 of 8 from the field and 5 for 5 from the foul line in the first half, and TCU – which came in shooting a Big 12-worst 40.9 percent – was hitting at a 56.5-percent clip.
”It’s all rhythm,” Anderson said. ”We put pretty good pressure on them in the first half.”
Then the second half started, and the Jayhawks began playing above the rim.
Black, Wiggins and Selden each were on the finishing end of alley-oop passes during what turned into a 23-5 run, giving Kansas a 70-45 lead midway through the second half.
Johnson burned through a series of timeouts, but none seemed to quiet a star-studded crowd that included several NBA stars and Barbara Eden of ”I Dream of Jeannie” fame.
The Jayhawks started to empty the bench with about five minutes left, shortly after Ellis knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner and the crowd started chanting his name.
”He was great,” Self said. ”He made shots, stretched it, then made mid-range shots, took the ball strong to the hole. I think one of his two misses he got back. He was without question our best player today. Other guys played well offensively, but certainly nobody played like Perry.”