The Horned Frogs finally won in their new conference, leading throughout against the Big 12’s most dominant team in a 62-55 victory Wednesday night. It was their first-ever win over a Top 5 team.
”It means a lot. Obviously we’ve had some tough years,” Frogs senior forward Garlon Green said. ”We’ve had a tough year right now, but this is a big win. We need to carry this momentum.”
Green scored 20 points for the Horned Frogs, including five in a row after a late 17-4 spurt by Kansas (19-3, 7-2 Big 12).
Naadir Tharpe scored nine points in a 2-minute span, with a 3-pointer and six consecutive free throws, before a dunk by Jeff Withey with 6:49 left got the Jayhawks within 44-40 – the closest they got since TCU scored the game’s first eight points.
After Tharpe missed a 3-pointer on a break, Adrick McKinney slung a pass inside to Green for layup. Kansas guard Ben McLemore, the Big 12’s top freshman scorer, missed an open 3-pointer before Green had a three-point play to stretch the lead back to 49-40 for TCU (10-12, 1-8).
”I said this from day one, we need to focus on what’s in the locker room,” said first-year coach Trent Johnson, whose team has already had three season-ending injuries. ”You’re never as bad as people say you are.”
On this night, they were good enough to beat the team that has won or shared 12 of the league’s 16 titles.
The Jayhawks, coming off a loss four days earlier against Oklahoma State, had played 264 games in a row since January 2006 without consecutive losses, the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
Against TCU, the Jayhawks looked nothing like the Big 12’s best team.
”It was the worst team that Kansas ever put on the floor, since Dr. Naismith was there,” coach Bill Self said. ”I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA and things like that in the first couple years. But for the first half, there hasn’t been a team play worse than that offensively.”
Kansas already had six turnovers and missed its first four shots before finally scoring 7:17 into the game, on Ben McLemore’s bounce pass to Jamari Traylor for a layup that made it 8-2.
The Jayhawks didn’t get closer before halftime, when they trailed 22-13. Even after scoring seven points in a row over a 2 1/2-minute span – one point more than they scored the rest of the half.
”We knew going in that we would have to play extremely well, offensively, defensively, extremely hard, and they were going to have to help us out,” Johnson said. ”When I said help us, obviously they missed a lot of shots they probably would make.”
Kansas shot a season-low 30 percent from the field (18 of 61) and had its lowest-scoring game since also scoring 55 in an NCAA tournament loss to UCLA on March 24, 2007.
TCU kept the Jayhawks in the game making only 5-of-12 free throws in a nearly 2-minute span before Elijah Johnson’s 3-pointer got Kansas within 56-50 with just under a minute left. Johnson added another one from long range with 34 seconds left but that wasn’t enough.
Nate Butler Lind had 10 points for TCU. Connell Crossland had eight points and 15 rebounds.
McLemore led Kansas with 15 points, while Withey had 12 points and Tharpe 11.
There was a record sellout crowd of 7,412 fans in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, a large portion of them loud Jayhawks fans cheering on their team coming off the 85-80 loss Saturday that ended their nation’s-best 18-game winning streak and a 33-game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse.
But when this game ended, they were filing out of the arena while TCU students stormed the court to celebrate the Frogs’ first-ever win over a Top 5 team in 21 tries.
Green’s 3-pointer made it 20-6 before the only Kansas spurt of the first half that could have been more if not for missed free throws.
McLemore made two free throws, and after Green missed another shot from long range, Kevin Young made a layup before Withey blocked a shot. But the Jayhawks then went to the free throw line on three consecutive possessions – Young twice, and Travis Releford once – and made only one of two freebies each time while getting within 20-13.
— Associated Press —