Kansas defeats TCU, 81-72

  • 3 p.m., Feb. 21, 2015
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Suitable sub: Devonté Graham’s new approach propels Kansas

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) puts up a shot over TCU guard Trey Zeigler (32) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) puts up a shot over TCU guard Trey Zeigler (32) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Devonté Graham, who hadn’t hit a shot in the last four games, scoring two points total in that span, exploded for a career-high 20 tallies in Kansas University’s 81-72 victory over TCU on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

The key to the radical turnaround?

“Haircut. There’s no question. He was prepared. He got it trimmed yesterday or whenever,” KU coach Bill Self said after the 6-foot-2 freshman point guard from Raleigh, North Carolina went 7-for-7 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point land and four of six from the free throw line.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on standout performances of Devonté Graham, Perry Ellis

Following his Kansas basketball team's 81-72 home win over TCU, coach Bill Self discusses the standout performances of backup point guard Devonté Graham and starting forward Perry Ellis, as well as numerous other topics.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ellis, Graham, Traylor discuss beating TCU, manager's contributions

Kansas basketball players Perry Ellis, Devonté Graham and Jamari Traylor discuss the Jayhawks' 81-72 home win over TCU, and the contributions of manager-turned-walk-on Chris Huey, who got to play in the final minute.

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Box score

“Perry (Ellis, 23 points) was great, but Devonté won the game for us. I wish he got his hair cut a long time ago. It may have worked out better,” Self added, smiling.

Graham, who scored 11 points the first half (he’d totaled eight points combined in the last six games), actually visited the barbershop on Saturday morning, just a few hours before tip.

“That’s what we’ve been joking about. Coach has been telling me to get a haircut for a minute,” said Graham, who had three assists against three turnovers in 27 minutes.

“Once Wayne (Selden, Jr.) got his hair cut, he started shooting the ball better. I went this morning and trimmed it down. I came out and was making shots. It’s kind of a coincidence,” Graham added.

Before Saturday, Graham had scored in double figures in one other Big 12 game — Jan. 17 at Iowa State. Coincidentally, he also was perfect from the field (3-for-3, seven points) against TCU in the first meeting between the squads on Jan. 28.

“I’ve been on him daily to become aggressive,” Self said. “Today he was aggressive. He got in the paint, made a couple key plays as far as dishing off to get us some easy baskets. It’s the best anybody’s probably done in getting in the paint forcing help and getting easy baskets behind it all year long. Hopefully this will be a springboard for him.”

Graham said he’s spoken with Self a lot the past several weeks.

“I mean I haven’t been to his office, but after practice he talks to me every day,” Graham said. “If I have a good practice, if I have a bad practice he tells me what I need to be doing. The main thing he’s been telling me is be aggressive, play my game because I’ve been too passive, not attacking the basket. That’s what I tried to do tonight.”

He admitted it was nice to have a perfect night from the floor after making just two of his last 12 shots since the last TCU game.

“I think some of it might had to do with luck, 7-for-7,” Graham said. “I have been working on my shot lately because I haven’t been shooting well.”

Graham and junior forward Ellis combined for 43 points off 16-of-17 shooting. Ellis hit nine of 10 shots and five of 10 free throws.

“It was important to our team for him to have a big game,” Self said of Ellis, who missed what would have been a game-winning layup at the buzzer on Monday at West Virginia.

“The missed shot against West Virginia ... we have not made a big deal out of that at all. He just missed a shot. He was off balance and rushed and everything. I know he cared. I know it hurt him. He probably felt he let us down. He didn’t. He played very well in that game. (Michael) Jordan, if I’m not mistaken, missed a lot of shots, too,” Self added. “Everybody does. If you play competitive ball, you do. I hope that wasn’t his motivation to play well. I hope it’s just because it was the next game. It’s a way he needs to play because I thought he played very well.”

Ellis had a vicious one-handed dunk off a lob from Frank Mason III (14 points, five assists) and followed that with another one-hander off a steal in the second half.

“He made a great play, got the dunk, came back and got the steal and dunk. The fieldhouse went crazy. Everybody on the bench went crazy,” said forward Jamari Traylor, who had eight points and three boards in 24 minutes on a night forward Cliff Alexander scored just two points with two boards in 11 minutes.

“I don’t know where to rank it, but it was definitely up there,” Traylor added of Ellis’ jam off the lob.

Now 22-5 overall and 11-3 in the league, KU travels to Kansas State on Monday for an 8 p.m., tip. TCU fell to 16-11, 3-11.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU

By the Numbers: Kansas beats TCU 81-72

By the Numbers: Kansas beats TCU 81-72


Yonatan Negash 6 years, 8 months ago

Now let's beat K State and win another Big 12 title.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 8 months ago

Wow, that nifty pass to Perry in the 1st half is great. If Graham can penetrate and this fast like that, we might see Cliff produces more.

Kristen Downing 6 years, 8 months ago

Sheesh, do these guys really believe haircuts make them play better?! I just don't understand.

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 8 months ago

Yup, that is the new secret that Coach Self has been hiding from everyone! Hope no one else copies!

RJ King 6 years, 8 months ago

Half the things Bill Self says are tongue in cheek. This too. And, "It’s kind of a coincidence,” Graham added.

No one seriously gave credit to the haircut. Re-read the article.

Gerry Butler 6 years, 8 months ago

no Kristen they don't. do you really believe that they are serious when they say as much? those are off the wall statements, they fully realize why. its because they have played better executed better as a whole, they get it, they understand. the bête you play, the better you execute the better the results GO HAWKS

Lonnie Snow 6 years, 8 months ago

This game was better but I think the strategy used to play Kansas is play them ugly. The West Virginia Game reminded me of the Days of Oklahoma Sooners full court press swat, hack, push and not get called for the foul because the whistle gets tired. I know its a strategy but its not fun to watch just like this game. BTW if hair cuts can do that I vote to hire one on staff, get like trims at half time or when ever they get sent to the bench.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

Time for Kelly to get a trim before tomorrow nights game.

RJ King 6 years, 8 months ago

No. Kelly is gorgeous. Don't touch him.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

TCU is definitely improved over a year ago. If they were in the Missouri Valley, they'd probably be in at least 2nd place there. If they were in the Pac 12, they'd be right in the middle. TCU was fired up yesterday because they have a chance to get to 20 wins including the Big 12 tourney, and that might be enough for them to get an at-large invitation, especially if they win 2 games in the Big 12 tourney. However, getting to 20 wins is quite an accomplishment from where they were two years ago and will give them something solid to build upon and something that will help them in recruiting. TCU destroyed K-State, by the way.

It's the sunflower showdown, and we have owned K-State in this series. With that said, K-State is going to give everything they've got against us. Every team we play right now is going to try to spoil this for KU. But, if we do beat K-State with Texas and West Virginia at home the following two, we should be at least one game ahead of Oklahoma going into that last game and still one game ahead of Iowa State by then, which will clinch at least a tie. One of the two teams is guaranteed to lose one because they have to play each other. I think it will be OU, which will eliminate them from a chance at a share of the title. Iowa State plays TCU in Fort Worth but I don't think they're going to fall for a trap(well maybe, because OU certainly has the ability to beat ISU in Ames). It's really interesting right now.

With all that said, KU controls their own destiny. We make it a five game winning streak, then nothing else matters in terms of the regular season conference championship.

But, we need to build momentum and at least make it to the Big 12 championship game in the tourney. If we win the Big 12 tourney, we should be a shoe-in for 5th or 6th overall seed in the tourney. Nobody can question how difficult a schedule we've played.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 8 months ago

We definitely have the toughest schedule and unlike the other conference opponents, we get everyone’s best effort but we don’t have to play ourselves.

RJ King 6 years, 8 months ago

I would love to see us as a 5th or 6th seed, because we wouldn't be looking ahead to Kentucky in the first couple rounds.

Brandon Dey 6 years, 8 months ago

TCU would be 3rd in the MVC you mean. N IA and WSU would be hard for them to beat this year.

They are rising I agree, but they are not the second best team in the MVC.

I agree with your comments on KSU.

JD Roth 6 years, 8 months ago

He said 5th or 6th OVERALL seed, which is a 2 seed. Geez...

RJ King 6 years, 8 months ago

Who are you talking to? If you were responding to me . . . I meant 5th or 6th OVERALL seed because he said "overall." (I didn't think it necessary to repeat it.)

Right now, ranked 8th - it plays out to us being the weakest #2, which would put us in the same bracket as Kentucky. I'd rather face Duke, Gonzaga, Arizona, Wisconsin - or whoever.

Brandon Dey 6 years, 8 months ago

Gary do you know if that was Graham's first serious injury he has had? He seemed to be tentative until his chat with Coach Self. Common among someone who has not had to come back from a serious injury.

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