Wiggins, No. 8 KU give TCU no shot at upset, 91-69
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Andrew Wiggins wasn’t around a year ago for one of the worst nights in Kansas basketball history.
The freshman guard heard stories from coach Bill Self, and took it upon himself to squash any TCU hopes of a repeat.
Wiggins scored 19 of his career-high 27 points in the first half and No. 8 Kansas answered last year’s stunning loss by taking control early in a 91-69 victory over the Horned Frogs on Saturday night.
”He let everyone know that they beat us last year so we had to come out with a lot of energy, come with aggression,” Wiggins said. ”I think we were concentrating and we played with a high level of energy.”
The Jayhawks (15-4, 6-0 Big 12) won their sixth straight game and remained the only Big 12 team without a league loss. Kansas didn’t get to extend its run of wins in four straight games against ranked opponents, the first team to do that since North Carolina in 1996-97.
In their visit to Fort Worth last year, the Jayhawks became the first top-five team to lose to the Horned Frogs in a 62-55 defeat. This time, Kansas had 53 points at halftime and led by as many as 24 in the first half.
”It was better, a lot better,” said Self, who joked a year ago that it was ”the worst team that Kansas ever put on the floor, since Dr. Naismith was there” after the Jayhawks scored 13 points in the first half.
Brandon Parrish scored 15 points to lead TCU (9-10, 0-7). The Horned Frogs are the only conference team without a league win and are 2-23 in their two Big 12 seasons.
TCU coach Trent Johnson simply saw what he called a ”really good” Kansas team, not one fired up to make amends for the shocker of a season ago.
”Why would they get all fired up about what?” Johnson said. ”You talk about Kansas basketball and we’re just trying to make this team relevant. We haven’t been to the postseason since the dinosaurs. So I don’t think they get all worked up over something like that.”
Joel Embiid had 14 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots for Kansas before fouling out for the fourth time this season. Wayne Selden Jr. scored 12, and Perry Ellis had eight points and 14 rebounds.
TCU’s student section flashed last year’s score in huge block numbers before the opening tip in case the Jayhawks had forgotten, but Wiggins was hardly fazed.
The top-scoring freshman in the Big 12 made his first three shots and had a pair of 3-pointers and an alley-oop dunk from Selden in the first half. Wiggins topped his previous career best of 25 points against Florida on Dec. 10 and led Kansas with five assists.
”He can defer a little bit and he can kind of get lost, but he never got lost today,” Self said. ”He was able to put his handprint all over the possessions and create opportunities for himself and others. I thought he played the way he should play every game.”
Wiggins also made it easier for the Jayhawks to exploit their size advantage inside. Jamari Traylor and Embiid had back-to-back dunks to put the Jayhawks up 14-6, surpassing their halftime total of 13 points from last year just 4 1/2 minutes into the game.
Kansas, which shot a season-low 30 percent in last year’s loss, was at 62 percent in the first half, which ended with the Jayhawks in front by 21. The Jayhawks shot 57 percent for the game.
Conner Frankamp and Wiggins hit consecutive 3-pointers to finish a 13-2 run that put Kansas up 43-22.
Embiid, a 7-footer from Cameroon, showed some versatility, beating Amric Fields with a strong spin move for a layup shortly before getting a steal, dribbling the length of the floor and getting fouled driving for a layup. He made both free throws for Kansas’ biggest first-half lead at 51-27.
”He’s a good player,” said TCU freshman center Karviar Shepherd, who had eight points and fouled out trying to stay with Embiid. ”We attacked each other on the offensive end and the defensive end. I got in some foul trouble early and he got the best of me.”
Fields had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Horned Frogs, who shot 56 percent in the second half to keep the game from getting completely out of hand. Kyan Anderson added 12 points and eight assists.