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Saturday, January 6, 2018

KU rebounds from home loss, survives test at TCU

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) goes to the bucket and is fouled hard by TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) goes to the bucket and is fouled hard by TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Staring down the barrel of another two-game losing streak and a second early loss in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks responded in hostile territory.

Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk combined for 48 points and Mitch Lightfoot provided a spark off the bench as the No. 10 Jayhawks (12-3, 2-1 Big 12) defeated No. 16 TCU, 88-84, to pick up their second road win in Big 12 play.

Challenged by his coach to do so earlier in the week, Graham continued to make an effort driving the ball, finishing the first half with 13 points and ending with a game-high 26.

Mykhailiuk added 12 in the first half, meaning the trio of he, Graham and Udoka Azubuike (10 first-half points, 4-for-4 shooting) had actually outscored the Horned Frogs to that point, 35-34, all while KU held an 18-10 advantage in points in the paint.

However, the early lead wouldn't last.

The KU offense, which went scoreless over the final 2:35 of the first half, had a similar such streak to start the second, much of which came with Azubuike on the bench in foul trouble.

Once down by as many as 14 points, the Horned Frogs kept the game within reach, cutting the deficit down to one and even taking the lead with less than five minutes to play.

Trailing by one, Mykhailiuk hit a 3-pointer to give KU a 75-73 lead. The Horned Frogs tied the game at 75 and again at 77, but Lightfoot, Garrett, Graham and Malik Newman all came up with key free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: KU came out with the urgency it lacked against Texas Tech.

While the Jayhawks never led in their last matchup against Texas Tech, it was nearly the opposite Saturday night at Schollmaier Arena. The Jayhawks needed all of 19 seconds to snag their first lead. They landed the first real punch shortly after, embarking on a 13-0 run to stretch a 9-8 lead out to 22-8.

TCU would eventually get back into the game, but the early spurt gave the Jayhawks a cushion and kept them from having to exert all their energy on a comeback.

• Offensive highlight: Azubuike was responsible for a pair of highlights early on.

With the Jayhawks aiming to get the ball inside early, Azubuike caught a pass on the left block and shrugged off one defender in the post. Azubuike then went up and powered in a two-handed slam over TCU’s J.D. Miller. He wasn't done.


Having already scored three buckets in the first four minutes, Azubuike created another opportunity with his defense. The 7-foot, 280-pound sophomore swatted away a shot from Miller at the rim, leading to a fast break that was finished off by a Mykhailiuk 3-pointer.

• Defensive highlight: Azubuike’s early swat made for a solid video, but it paled in comparison to the one by Mykhailiuk moments later.

After Graham’s out-of-control layup attempt missed off the rim, TCU had the chance at a fast break the other way. Redshirt freshman Kouat Noi dribbled toward the rim with a full head of steam and went up for a tomahawk slam, but Mykhailiuk soared in and swatted the ball away, regaining possession for KU in the process.

• Key stat: Leading 29-19 after a Vick 3-pointer, the Jayhawks dealt with a bit of foul trouble. Azubuike was called for his second foul going for a rebound off an attempted lob with just under 10 minutes to play.

In the final 9:47 of the half, in which Azubuike played no minutes, the Jayhawks were able to hold off the Horned Frogs and remain in control. The Jayhawks kept the Horned Frogs without a field goal in the final three minutes and went to the break outshooting TCU by nearly 25 percentage points (57.7 percent to 34.4 percent).

That continued to be a theme of the game, after Azubuike fouled out with 4:57 to play. Lightfoot, who finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and six blocks, played a career-high 26 minutes. No play he made was bigger than his block of TCU's Jaylen Fisher on a potential game-tying 3-point attempt with less than 40 seconds left.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will return home for a pair of games against some scuffling Big 12 opponents. KU will first square off against Iowa State (0-3 in Big 12 play) on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. before facing K-State (1-2).


More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU


By the Numbers: Kansas 88, TCU 84

By the Numbers: Kansas 88, TCU 84

Comments

Barry Weiss 9 months, 2 weeks ago

well, it was a road win so you have to be happy with that. Free throws need to improve. Still not sure what is wrong with Newman, he is just out of sorts. Vick also is struggling it seems. Game ball to Lightfoot for coming up so big. And we need to play Cunliffe more!!

Barry Weiss 9 months, 2 weeks ago

oh, espn box score has us losing the boards 42-28. We need help down low.

Steve Zimmerman 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Help is on the way. Once Silvio is cleared to play and Billy is out of his cage.

Bryce Landon 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Totally agree with you, Barry - Lightfoot single-handedly won this game for us. He came up with timely plays when we needed them most, he had six blocks, and even a 3-pointer to keep the Horny Toads at bay.

I cracked the Jayhawks hard on this site after Tuesday's loss for having no fire in their bellies and for going through the motions and giving no real semblance of effort. So it only seems fair that I give them credit for coming with pep in their step, competitive juices, and giving a truly solid effort. They withstood TCU's comebacks, made big plays when they were most needed (especially Mitch), and did all the things they couldn't be bothered to do against the Red Raiders. I honestly did not expect us to win this game, but they proved me wrong, and these are the times when I love being wrong.

That said, does it not boggle the mind how this Jayhawk team seems to play better in front of opposing fans than in front of its own fans? All three of KU's losses have been in front of pro-KU crowds - twice already in AFH, and once in KC.

Adam Engelbrecht 9 months, 2 weeks ago

First of all, I am happy they got a road win against a ranked team. Good job fellas.

Having said that, I just don't know about this group yet. They are all still making some really awful decisions at times. Newman is completely out of sorts. People blow by him on the reg and it gets others into trouble. He just doesn't look like he's enjoying it or in any sort of flow, on both ends. Having his starting role taken away probably doesn't help, but he hasn't been playing well enough to deserve it IMO.

Azubuike committed a couple fouls tonight he could have definitely avoided. I do think it's a symptom of our defense not being great in other areas though, too. We REALLY need another big man to take some of the heat off of him. Vick has had two atrocious games in a row now. I'm not sure what's wrong with him, but he just has been a non-factor for Texas and TCU. His defense has suffered because of it too. He helps when he doesn't have to, and sometimes doesn't help when he should.

Svi made at least two mind-boggling plays tonight that just made me scoff. I was a half step back three that airballed. I'm glad he was hot early because he played pretty bad the second half. I'm glad Devonte scored 28 points tonight, but he really shouldn't have to. Have got to find some more help or there is no way they're winning the B12 this year.

Now for your game MVPs. Garrett and Lightfoot. Lightfoot had a crazy good game. 6 blocks and 7 rebounds when they really needed them. He still gets destroyed in ball screens and pick and rolls, but he did well tonight. If only Garrett could shoot better, he'd be crazy good. His defense is by far the best on the team. Only had 1 foul and 1 turnover. Just made the right decisions tonight when others weren't.

These guys desperately need to get Billy and Silvio. At least one of them. If they don't get some help I sincerely doubt they can win the league this year.

Robert Brock 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The Horned Frogs pounded the Jayhawks on the glass 42-28. I am shocked that we somehow won that game.

Azubuike managed ONE rebound. It will be tough to win any other conference games playing like that.

Adam Engelbrecht 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, tough to do too much when you foul out in 13 minutes. He's got to figure out how to play without fouling so much.

Tony Bandle 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Random Thoughts:

1] TCU is much improved but they are still not in the class of Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma. I would rank them with Texas and Baylor. The bottom third would be Okie State, Iowa State and K-State. At this moment I don't have a clue as to where to fit in KU. Time and a couple of big bodies will tell.

2] Trae Young is amazing...the rest of the Oklahoma team, not so much. They are beatable.

3] Maybe the best strategy our opponents can adopt is to take away the three and put us on the foul line.

4] Garrett, Newman, Cunliffe and, until tonight, Lightfoot are an offensive waste land. I know they will get better but it may not be in time.

5] The one bonus we could garnish from the delay on Billy and Silvio is the immense amount of PT Lightfoot is getting that he certainly would not have seen. He could be really good next season.

6] Well....here we are....Near first place at 2-1, We hold service at home that's 8-1 and we sweep ISU, KSU, Texas, TCU & OSU that equals the magic 13-5 projected Conference Title mark.

Steve Zimmerman 9 months, 2 weeks ago

4] I'm pretty sure Cunliffe contributes more on offense. At least he can take jumpshots. Dribble drive needs a bit of tweaks, but he can be more effective on O. But on D, he doesn't set his feet like Garrett does.

Doug Clark 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I am just worried Devonte is having to do too much, no matter how good of shape you are in he can't keep shouldering the whole load, there are 15 hard games left in the regular season, even though is,ksu, and osu may be on the bottom but they will all be tough games, we don't play well at OSU and isu and ksu will play us very tough no matter their records, Newman and Vick need to step up and udoka has to play smarter and rebound better, for someone of his size and strength to only get one rebound is shameful. Come on boys,help Devonte.

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