Few things are as automatic as a Bill Self-led Kansas team bouncing back from a loss.
Following its first conference defeat of the season, No. 7 Kansas got back in the win column with a 77-68 victory over No. 25 TCU Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks are now 87-11 in games following a loss over the last 16 years, which is the best win percentage in the nation in such contests.
The circumstances were vastly different this time, but it still did not matter. One day after KU suffered a 77-60 loss at Iowa State, the team announced that starting center Udoka Azubuike would be out for the remainder of the season. It forced Self to pull the redshirt off freshman Ochai Agbaji to add some much-needed depth.
Agbaji finished with seven points, including a pair of alley-oop dunks, in his collegiate debut. And Kansas led for over 85 percent of the game. Junior Dedric Lawson paced KU with a game-high 31 points. Lawson added 14 rebounds to notch his 11th double-double of the season.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: When Lawson took over in the second half, which was similar to a stretch he had earlier in the season against New Mexico State.
Lawson scored 11 consecutive points for Kansas, which started at the 10:11 mark in the second half and concluded with 5:03 left to play in the game. During the run, Kansas stretched its lead to as many as nine points.
During that stretch, Lawson buried a triple from the left baseline to net his second 3-pointer of the night. It marked the first time that Lawson had connected on multiple triples in a game this season.
• Offensive highlight: Kansas fans were patiently waiting for Agbaji to make his collegiate debut against TCU.
The night before, Self announced that he was pulling Agbaji’s redshirt and planned to use him for depth in the backcourt. Once Agbaji checked in at the 15:51 mark in the first half, Kansas fans did not have to wait long to see why Self opted to burn his redshirt.
Self called a lob for Agbaji, and he demonstrated his athleticism on his first collegiate possession. Freshman Devon Dotson threw it up to Agbaji, who finished things off to complete the first alley-oop of the contest.
• Defensive highlight: You can start to see the identity that this Kansas team can embrace with Udoka sidelined for the rest of the season.
The Jayhawks can employ more guard-heavy lineups, and try to create more pressure on the perimeter. If Kansas can create turnovers by doing this, the guards can push the ball up the court and get more buckets in transition
At least for a sequence, KU fans saw just that. Charlie Moore got in a passing lane, and snatched a kick-out pass. Moore immediately pushed the ball in transition, and Agbaji was one step ahead of him. Moore lobbed the ball up to Agbaji, who ended the sequence with another slam.
•Up next: Kansas travels to Baylor at 3 p.m. Saturday.