No. 8 Jayhawks return home ready to ‘take care of business’ against TCU
Kansas still finds itself atop the Big 12 standings after a disappointing loss, but its lead is down to one with a handful of tough games still to come.
Saturday’s home matchup against TCU, however, wouldn’t figure to give the eighth-ranked Jayhawks much trouble.
"If we take care of business, everything will play out fine," coach Bill Self said. "We have a one-game lead on Iowa State with five to go for both teams.
"Obviously, it’s down to crunch time. But I told our guys that’s the way you want it. That’s the way it should be. You should have to play well to win a league."
The Jayhawks (21-5, 10-3) return home looking to get back on track following Monday’s 62-61 loss at No. 23 West Virginia. Perry Ellis scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, but he missed what would have been the winning layup just before the buzzer after Kansas surrendered the go-ahead layup with 4 seconds to go.
The Jayhawks were outrebounded 22-11 on the offensive glass, an issue that plagued them in a tougher than expected 64-61 win at TCU on Jan. 28. Frank Mason III led the way with 16 points as Kansas escaped despite giving up a season-worst 26 offensive boards.
"A lot of times their best offense is going and getting it off the glass," Self said of the Horned Frogs, who are averaging 13.7 offensive rebounds to rank third in the conference. "We’ve got to do a much better job. We were really poor in Fort Worth with that."
The Jayhawks have taken eight of nine all-time matchups in the series, including all three inside Allen Fieldhouse by an average of 25.0 points. They easily won 95-65 during the Horned Frogs’ last visit Feb. 15, 2014, behind a career-high 32 points from Ellis.
While Saturday’s matchup appears to be the easiest remaining game on the Jayhawks’ schedule, they know they can’t afford to overlook TCU. Kansas’ final four contests come at Kansas State, at home against Texas and the Mountaineers, and at No. 17 Oklahoma.
The Horned Frogs (16-10, 3-10) are coming off their first-ever set of back-to-back Big 12 wins after beating then-No. 21 Oklahoma State 70-55 last Saturday and Kansas State 69-55 on Wednesday.
"I think obviously what happened with Oklahoma State, with what happened with Kansas State, then what happened with us down there, (those) are three good reminders that this team’s very capable of playing with anybody," said Self, whose team enters as a double-digit favorite.
TCU, which had dropped seven in a row before beating the Cowboys, is now 5-44 in league play since joining the conference in 2012-13.
"We’re growing up, we’re maturing and I think that to learn how to win, you have to go through it," coach Trent Johnson said.
The Horned Frogs are shooting 52.7 percent in the last two games. Kyan Anderson leads the team with 12.9 points per game, and he’s scored a combined 42 in the last two against Kansas.
TCU has been outscored by an average of 18.7 points during a 29-game road losing streak against ranked opponents since beating No. 24 Hawaii 83-76 on Jan. 19, 1998. However, the Horned Frogs nearly upset West Virginia in a last-second 86-85 overtime defeat in Morgantown on Jan. 24.
The Jayhawks have won 135 of their last 140 home games, including all 13 this season by an average of 14.4 points.