It’s another big win for Kansas Basketball on the road over TCU. Here are some key takeaways from the victory and how it was done.
Kansas Basketball avenged their ugly late January loss to TCU at The Phog with a display of defensive dominance on Monday night. Their 63-58 win puts them one game closer to yet another Big 12 regular season championship and notches their nation-leading 14th Quad 1 win.
In a year full of huge wins, this one displays the ceiling that the Jayhawks have defensively as well as the high impact that their role players provide. Star forward Jalen Wilson struggled and TCU held them in check for most of the game. But it didn’t matter. In crunch time, Kansas didn’t budge and they walked out of Schollmaier Arena with a statement win. There’s a lot to take away from this game, but here are the most important.
Defensive Dominance wins the game for the Jayhawks
It wasn’t a completely beautiful game offensively at times, but in a game between two great defensive teams, Kansas made the plays late to win it. The Jayhawks held TCU to 0.84 points per possession and did so by clamping down in the paint.
Sure, the Horned Frogs played well in transition and kept themselves in the game but in the half-court, they were tortured. Star guards Mike Miles Jr. and Damian Baugh both made two of their ten two-point attempts each and as a team, TCU made only 31% of their two-point looks, many of which came near the basket.
They kept Miles from taking over the game as he did in the first meeting back in January and the Horned Frogs certainly fell back to Earth from three-point range after being unconscious from distance in their first meeting.
Late in the game, Kansas forced turnovers and Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams made a crucial block on Baugh to help keep TCU at arm’s length.
Dajuan Harris did an incredible job on Miles, McCullar was everywhere and Ernest Udeh was credited for three steals in only 14 minutes of play while Wilson, Gradey Dick, and KJ Adams battled foul trouble in the first half.
Despite not having a dominant rim-protecting big, Kansas is fantastic defensively and their efforts on that end of the floor helped them escape the upset.
Dick and Harris create enough offensively
Wilson really struggled offensively. He scored only seven points (was averaging 20 per game) on 3-11 shooting from the field. But it didn’t matter because Dick and Harris provided enough to get the win.
Dick got it going early and gave the Jayhawks a spark. He scored 10 of their first 12 and single-handedly provided all the offensive production in the first ten minutes. He finished with a game-high 19 points and made enough shots early to keep Kansas from being in a double-digit hole.
For Harris, he displayed another marvelous night of floor general availability. He dropped eight assists and committed zero turnovers while also scoring six points (including a much-needed layup late in the game). Harris is one of the best point guards in all of college basketball with his passing ability and he displayed that against TCU. Whether it was motioning for Freshman MJ Rice to run the floor before threading the needle with a bounce pass to give him a fast break lay-up or beautifully orchestrating a high ball screen to throw a lob to Udeh for an emphatic slam, Harris was in complete control of this offense.
The Horned Frogs did a great job of forcing live ball turnovers in the first half to get themselves on the fast break. However, Harris’ ability to make high-risk passes while also knowing when to not make a pass in traffic was one of the biggest changes from the first half to the second.
Kansas adds another impressive win to the nation’s best resume
ESPN’s Sean Farnham was 100% correct on Sunday night when he said that Kansas should be the presumed number one overall seed. Houston and Alabama have great resumes but there isn’t one in the nation that is better than Kansas’.
After the win against TCU, the Jayhawks are now an astonishing 14-5 in Quad 1 games. Their 14 Quad 1 wins are the most in the nation by a long shot with the second most being Purdue with nine. That’s an astonishing gap. Their average NET ranking of the opponents they beat is 76, the highest in the nation with the second closest being Alabama at 96, another large gap!
The win against TCU is their seventh true road win of the season. Four of those seven true road wins came against teams ranked in the top 40 in NET. Out of all the teams with at least seven true road wins this season, only Kansas has four or more true road wins against teams in the top 40 in NET. Alabama is the next closest with three.
Kansas is posting a resume like this while also having the number one ranked strength of schedule. The Jayhawks are the clear number one overall seed as of now and with each impressive win, they are looking more and more likely to be the first repeat champions since Florida in the mid-2000s.