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The Day After: TCU

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins delivers on a lob dunk against TCU during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins delivers on a lob dunk against TCU during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

Andrew Wiggins was sensational (27 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) and the KU bench stepped up, as well, to help lead Kansas to a 91-69 beating of TCU on Saturday night in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas came into the game at 5-0 in the Big 12 and the Horned Frogs entered the game at 0-6, so the outcome was far from a surprise. But given the fact that the last time the Jayhawks played at TCU they inspired KU coach Bill Self to mention past futile match-ups with Topeka YMCA, the victory registers as a positive step for a team that really seems to be hitting its stride.

Kansas has now won six straight games, has a stranglehold on the Big 12 Conference race and finds ways, big and small, to get better every time they take the floor.

Quick takeaway:

The bottom line about KU's latest victory demonstrates the maturity and developing killer instinct this team has. Although very few of the guys who contributed to this victory were there last year when KU laid an egg, they still treated the trip to TCU with a business-like mentality. The soaring Jayhawks nearly scored as many in the first half (53) as they did in the entire game last year (55) in Fort Worth. And it's clear that this group was determined to put to bed all of the talk about last year's meltdown. Road conference wins are never easy, but the Jayhawks made this one look like cake.

Three reasons to smile:

1 – How about Landen Lucas. With Tarik Black wearing a boot and unable to play, Lucas filled his spot in the rotation admirably. He finished with 7 points and 5 rebounds in just 13 minutes and hit 3 of 4 shots while displaying the belief that he belonged. Lucas has embraced his limited role on this team about as well as anybody, and his intelligence, maturity and team-first mentality ensure that he's already ready if needed.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas puts in a bucket over TCU guard Christian Gore during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas puts in a bucket over TCU guard Christian Gore during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – Jayhawks attacked the rim. Whether it was Jamari Traylor, Perry Ellis, Joel Embiid or Wayne Selden, the Jayhawks chose the dunk as their weapon of choice to show that this year would be different. KU attacked the rim and finished with authority from the jump and seemed to look to drop the hammer whenever possible. You can see it in a lot of ways, and this is just one of them, but it's very clear that this team's confidence is sky-high right now.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor dunks over TCU guard Jarvis Ray (22) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor dunks over TCU guard Jarvis Ray (22) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – Post-entry passes on point. It's a small detail that plays a big role in the KU offense and the Jayhawks were fantastic feeding the post against the Horned Frogs. Whether it was the high passes to the corner of the backboard that only KU's post players could catch or zipped bounce passes to bigs who had their defenders sealed, KU made sure to take advantage of its opportunities and advantage inside, which showed when three TCU players fouled out

Three reasons to sigh:

(Disclaimer: This was a pretty clean game and these are a little nit-picky)

1 – They more than made up for it with a blistering 62 percent shooting performance and 21-point lead in the first half, but in the game's earliest moments, KU looked a little scattered, particularly on offense. To me, that was a sign of them pressing a little to make sure that what happened last year did not happen again this year. It didn't last long, and once they just settled down and played, they turned in one of their better offensive games of the season, so, again, hardly a big deal.

2 – Coaches get paid a lot of money to make good decisions and 99.9% of the time they do just that. But I've never understood why some coaches have key players on the floor late in blowouts. I'm sure they have their reasons and I'm sure those reasons are sound, but I was more than a little surprised to see Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins still on the floor in the final five minutes with KU leading by nearly 20 points. Selden and Wiggins checked out for good at the 1:56 mark and no harm was done. But, to me, it just hardly seems worth the risk of having a couple of key starters out there that late when the game is well in hand.

3 – Free throw shooting. The Jayhawks won by 22 and looked great doing it. But that easily could have been a 30-point spread if KU had hit its free throws. The Jayhawks missed 13 overall, with Joel Embiid missing nearly half of his trips (5 of 11). These weren't clutch free throws we're talking about, so all's well that ends well, but something like 30-of-38 would've looked a lot better than 25-of-38. Like I said, we're nit-picking a little here.

One for the road:

The Jayhawks' dominating road win over TCU:

• Kept Kansas as the only undefeated team in conference play, making KU 6-0 for the third-straight time and the sixth time in the 11-year Bill Self era.

• Increased the Jayhawks’ series lead to 6-1 all-time against the Horned Frogs, including a 2-1 advantage in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

• Moved Kansas head coach Bill Self to 10-4 all-time against TCU, 315 63 while at Kansas and 522-168 overall.

• Pushed KU's all-time record to 2,116-816.

Next up:

The Jayhawks return home Wednesday, Jan. 29, for a rematch with Iowa State at 8 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse. KU knocked off Iowa State 77-70 Jan. 13 in Ames, Iowa. 

Kansas center Joel Embiid stuffs a shot by TCU center Karviar Shepherd during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas center Joel Embiid stuffs a shot by TCU center Karviar Shepherd during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

Comments

Aaron Paisley 9 months, 1 week ago

I can add a another reason to sigh since we're getting nit picky about it, but TCU shot 42% from the field for the game. This team is getting better, but there's still work to do on defense because past KU would've held this TCU team to well under 40% and probably under 35% shooting for the game.

Matt Tait 9 months, 1 week ago

Yeah. Their high level of play on offense is hiding a few weaknesses on defense. With Self, though, you know that defense is what's being emphasized every single day so I'd expect them to keep getting better, even if it comes in the form of baby steps.

Joe Joseph 9 months, 1 week ago

I have a feeling Self kept the starters on the floor because he wanted to see them play some actual defense in the second half. There was a stretch in the 2nd half when TCU had more than a couple of chances to cut the lead to 14 or 15. I also remember a time in the 2nd half when TCU was shooting 47% from the field for the game, which is much better than its season average of 41% and much worse than KU's defensive average fg% of 40%.

I get it. It's difficult to play with the same level of intensity when you're up 20 and clearly playing against lesser talent. But it was still a rather shaky defensive effort.

Matt Tait 9 months, 1 week ago

You may be dead on. I didn't consider that. It's a fine line, obviously... You don't want to let up and you want to remain demanding, but you also don't want anything bad to happen when the game is in hand.

Glad that's someone else's decision and not mine.

Joe Joseph 9 months, 1 week ago

I completely agree. I started getting a bit worried when there was just a couple of minutes left and Wiggins was still on the floor.

Len Shaffer 9 months ago

That's a good point, Joe, but Self does it a lot, not just in this game. I'm glad Matt brought it up, because it's something I've always wondered about. (Of course it's not just Self that does it; most coaches seem to leave their starters in way too long in blowouts.)

Rodney Crain 9 months, 1 week ago

Another sigh, I know it’s a road win in conference, I do like that we are finding different ways to win, but we have to work on finishing games. It is very important how you play with a lead, [see MI game last year]. I do not expect perfect play, I know they are young men, but I would really like to see us maintain our concentration and execute defense and offense regardless of who is playing throughout the game. If they chip away at the lead and we are executing at a high level so be it. If a team is good like Ok State they will come back at you and once you lose momentum it can be tough to regain it, especially on the road. Even TCU did not give up and played much better against us in the second half. We must learn to play with a lead better.

I get your point about playing the starters so late in a blow out, but my point is about whoever is in there. Make the passes, run the offense, defend, just basically keep up the intensity like the score is 0-0.

Lots of our fans checked the game as a win and moved on like the players did at half time. It can be dangerous to do that for a team. It is not too much expecting the team to execute till the end.

Jason Keller 9 months, 1 week ago

Tait, good call on Self keeping the starters out there a little too late.. I honestly just think that he was so happy to see Wiggins' shots falling that he wanted the kid to get us big of a confidence boost out of that night as possible. I think he wanted him to get 30 and pad those stats. It is a risk but it gives Wiggins a chance to get some of the media off his back and get rid of some of the pressure. Don't look now but one more 20+ game and he'll be averaging over 16 points per game. He could still easily break Mclemore's record before the seasons over. He is quietly beginning to meet expectations, as ridiculous as they are.

Rick Glover 9 months, 1 week ago

How is Joel Embiid's knee, was told that the replay showed hyperextension. Any word?

Matt Tait 9 months, 1 week ago

Sounds like he's fine, according to the man himself via Twitter.

Suzi Marshall 9 months, 1 week ago

You are wrong with the inclusion of Ellis finishing strong. He’s very weak finishing and avoids contact.

Ellis hit for two scores, one was a 15’ J (8:34 2nd H) He did have the one dunk in transition off the dime from Greene at 9:20 (1st H) but there was “the rest of the story.”

First Half

18:17 Ellis missed a bunny and should have dunked

17:00 Ellis in transition after a steal missed a funky fade away layup when he hand one-on-one momentum against a vulnerable 6’6” Jarvis Ray.

13:48 Ellis weak across the lane and losses the ball on a traveling violation trying some weak stuff instead of shouldering into the rim strong.

11:22 Ellis drives and does a nice spin move into the center of the lane only to misses a weak finger roll instead of finishing strong. Ellis was fouled and hit both FTs.

2:38 Ellis spins across the middle of the lane, instead of into the basket, and misses a weak left handed bunny hook flip.

Second Half

13:31 misses some kind of weak funky fade away at the rim against the double team. Mari’s was left open for a lob dunk.

That is six (6) additional buckets he could have hit.

Kye Clark 9 months, 1 week ago

Here we go again with the "lob dunks" were open parade, complete with the time these allegedly happened.

Ellis did manage to throw a few dunks down. Just didn't feel like mentioning that? Nah, doesn't fit into your neat little package of Ellis' "funky" & "weak" game that he brings.

Suzi Marshall 9 months, 1 week ago

Kye,,,read what I said. You seem to want to insert plurals where only singular is written. You also seem to want to overlook what is written to insert your own narrative. As originally written, Ellis got ONE dunk, which was in transition from the dime from Greene. The is no s on the dunk Ellis had in the game. And no s on lob dunks missed....only one. The fact is Ellis is very soft around the basket with the ball.

Craig Carr 9 months, 1 week ago

14 rebounds and soft do not exist together, if you must critique then do it with something you actually have experience with.

Suzi Marshall 9 months ago

Soft finishes at the rim are not the same as rebounds. What is the required experience to render critique?

Sean Swindler 9 months, 1 week ago

If I have a criticism of Bill Self- its that he doesn't play the scrubs when he has opportunities - I'll take Self over Roy any day, but it seems like Roy's trigger point for removing starters was about 4-5 min. left in a blow-out - and Self's is 2 min.

That said - I get letting Wiggins try to get 30 and get a couple extra headlines.

Jack Jones 9 months, 1 week ago

Stranglehold!! Easy now ~ it sounds as if the extreme over-hype that preceded this team is still at work. We have a two game lead with twelve games left to play in the conference, and we've not exactly crushed the majority of the six teams we defeated. Yes, for a team with as many freshman and very little actual game experienced returning players, we have had great success, especially with the beginning of the conference schedule. And, yes ~ I would be thrilled if we went 18-0, and look forward to hanging another Big 12 Championship banner in the Phog. However, I suspect there are at least 3 or 4 teams that aren't quite ready to concede that title just yet ~ and that, coupled with our tendency to still play with some inconsistency for uncomfortably long stretches of our games, leaves me more than a little cautious about applying the word "stranglehold" at this point.

Jonathan Allison 9 months ago

Agreed! We by no means have a stranglehold. A two game lead, ha! It's only one game more than a one game lead. We still travel to Stillwater, Austin, Waco, Manhattan, Morgantown, and Lubbock. Oklahoma is playing well, Texas is on a mission. Oklahoma State has a ton of firepower. Baylor is a joke now, but with all of that talent on the roster they can still wreak some havoc in the league race and conference tourney. The rabid fan base in Manhattan could spark some inspired play out of their team when we visit podunk colisseum. There's too much ball left to play to feel comfortable with a 2 game lead. How many times during the 9 year streak has a team lost a two game advantage? Probably at least 3 or 4 years if I felt like doing the research. I know that there have been times when I thought that Texas, or A&M, or OSU, or OU all but had it wrapped up and then they choked it away or fell back into a tie late in the season.

Bryan Mohr 9 months, 1 week ago

I'm guessing there is a higher chance of severe injury during the final 10 minutes of games, so you probably make a good point Matt.

Another viewpoint could be to get these 1-and-done guys as much game time experience as possible in preparation for what we all know really matters most - the NCAA tourney. We've got 1 shot with these guys for an NCAA championship - need to get them ready.

Ryan Kruse 9 months, 1 week ago

Sean, you must of been a hell of a baller to call the last five off the bench, scrubs! Remember next time you insult the guys that sit farther down from the scorer's table than Wiggins and the mainstay, they practice just as hard, study as hard and have played more D-1 basketball then you. Thank you for the consideration

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