TCU fulfills dream with 1st Big 12 win over KU
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Garlon Green dreamed of a victory over Kansas long before he played for TCU.
It’s hard to think that the Horned Frogs senior forward or anyone else could have ever imagined his dream being fulfilled like this. The fifth-ranked Jayhawks certainly didn’t.
Big 12 newcomer TCU was still looking for its first conference victory and there were some who wondered if the Frogs, who have lost three key players to season-ending injuries, could become the first team to go winless in the league. On Wednesday night, here came the Jayhawks, the bullies of the Big 12, the team that has won 12 of 16 regular-season league titles. They were coming off a rare home loss and riding a seven-year streak without consecutive losses.
Blowout city, right?
The Frogs stunned everyone by sticking Kansas with its largest deficit of the season, and held on for a 62-55 shocker and their first-ever win over a top five team.
“We come out here every day. We put our heart and soul into it every night, every morning,” Green said. “I’ve grown up since I was 3 years old having a dream to beat Kansas or beat anybody. I’ve always believed in myself.”
Green scored 20 points Wednesday night, including five in a row to thwart a potential comeback by the Jayhawks (19-3, 7-2 Big 12) after a 17-4 run got them within four points with 6:49 left– the closest they got after TCU scored the game’s first eight points.
TCU (10-12, 1-8) led by as many as 16 points after halftime, but first-year coach Trent Johnson didn’t feel comfortable until almost the very end of the game.
“When there was 8 seconds left on the clock and we were on the free throw line,” Johnson said. “I’ve been in this scenario before and seen both sides of it. A lot can happen in a minute. When there was 8 seconds left on the clock and we were at the line, I said `All right,’ took a deep breath and there we go.”
A few seconds later, TCU students were swarming the Horned Frogs on the court.
Johnson previously took LSU, Stanford and Nevada to the NCAA tournament, a place the Horned Frogs haven’t been since 1998. The Frogs were coming off their first winning season in seven years when he arrived for the challenge of leading them into the Big 12.
Johnson is 2-0 against Kansas. His Nevada team beat the sixth-ranked Jayhawks in December 2003. But his first season in Fort Worth has been hampered by some significant injuries.
Aaron Durley, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound freshman center who was expected to have an early impact, tore an ACL during a non-contract drill the second week of preseason practice.
Junior forward Amric Field, the Mountain West Conference’s top sixth man last year who had moved into a starting role, sustained a season-ending knee injury when his right leg buckled and he fell to the floor 12 seconds into the third game. Junior starting guard Jarvis Ray’s season was ended by an injury to his left foot in the 10th game.
“I said this from day one, we need to focus on what’s in the locker room,” Johnson said. “The easiest things for players to do is to check it in. The easiest thing for me to do is to do my job. Come out and coach everyday not worry about what we don’t have and continue to coach.”
Kansas didn’t score its first points against TCU until 7:17 into the game, then didn’t make another field goal for another 8 minutes.
The Jayhawks were only 3-of-22 shooting before halftime, when they trailed 22-13. They finished shooting 29.5 percent (18 of 61), their worst in 514 games since December 1998, and saw the end of their Division I-best streak of 264 games in a row since January 2006 without consecutive losses.
“(The first half) was awful, but even as bad as it was, which it was horrendous, if we’re sound defensively and can get stops at the shot clock and things like that, we’re probably going to be down 4-6 (points), as opposed to nine,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “They played really good defense. Statistically, they’re good. But yeah, it was a bad shooting night.”
Fellow Big 12 newcomer West Virginia, which beat TCU 71-50 two weeks ago, makes its first visit to Fort Worth on Saturday. The Horned Frogs play Monday night at Oklahoma, the only league team they haven’t yet played.
“We’re going to do what we need to do to carry on this momentum,” Green said. “It was fun. But we have a game here pretty soon coming up so we have to get ready for this.”
And on Thursday, a day after arguably the biggest victory in TCU history and the midpoint of their 18-game Big 12 schedule, Johnson was out of town on a recruiting trip. He certainly had a new tale to tell.