Kansas routs TCU to clinch share of Big 12 title
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Frank Mason III scored 20 points, Carlton Bragg provided a big lift off the bench and No. 3 Kansas pulled away in the second half to beat TCU 87-68 on Wednesday night and clinch a share of its 13th consecutive Big 12 championship.
Devonte Graham added 17 points and seven assists, and Bragg and Josh Jackson scored 15 points apiece, as the Jayhawks (25-3, 13-2) cruised to their NCAA-leading 60th conference title.
Their streak dating to coach Bill Self’s second season in Lawrence matches the Division I record of 13 straight league titles UCLA set in the 1960s and `70s. To put it into perspective, Kansas has not failed to win a share of the Big 12 since the 20-year-old Jackson was 8.
Kansas can clinch the outright title with a victory at Texas on Saturday.
Alex Robinson had 15 points for the Horned Frogs (17-11, 6-9), who have lost four straight and still have never won in Allen Fieldhouse. Jaylen Fisher added 11 points and JD Miller had 10.
As the final seconds ticked away, Self congratulated his assistant coaches on the bench, and the Jayhawks donned white championship hats. Jackson had trouble tucking his over his bushy hair, but all that did was add to the festive atmosphere inside the Jayhawks’ storied arena.
Just like in their first meeting in Fort Worth, when the Horned Frogs gave Kansas everything it could handle most of the way, this one was a nip-and-tuck matchup well into the second half.
The Jayhawks’ superior guard play eventually opened a gap.
It began after TCU had closed to 49-47 on a basket by Miller with about 16 minutes left. The Jayhawks answered moments later when Mason lobbed a pass to Jackson and the springy freshman forward — showing no signs that his ankle was still bothering him — threw it down for a dunk.
The play touched off eight straight points that allowed Kansas to pry open a game in which nobody had led by more than five. And when the Jayhawks went on another run a few minutes later, this one led by Landon Lucas and Bragg in the paint, the crowd inside the Phog began to sense another championship.
The dagger came when Svi Mykhailiuk curled in a 3-pointer from the corner with just over 3 minutes left, giving Kansas a 78-64 lead and allowing the celebration to begin.
One that has become oh-so common over the past 13 years.
TCU had won three straight before its current skid, which has nearly eliminated the Horned Frogs from the NCAA Tournament bubble. They have lost 21 straight against ranked opponents.
Kansas has ripped off five straight wins as it begins to positions itself for a run at the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks have beat two top-10 teams during their latest streak.
WHAT A RUSH
Former Kansas star Brandon Rush had his jersey retired at halftime, joining fellow No. 25s B.H. Born and Danny Manning in Fieldhouse rafters. Rush’s jersey was positioned next to the No. 15 of Mario Chalmers, his teammate in helping the Jayhawks to the 2008 national title.
“Man, it feels so good to be back on this floor again. This is a special day for me and my family, and I appreciate it,” Rush said. “This is the biggest day of my life.”
TCU heads plays No. 12 West Virginia at home Saturday.
Kansas visits struggling Texas on Saturday night.