February 22, 2013

TCU’s upset of Kansas feels like a distant memory as teams meet for rematch

Kansas has returned to its winning ways after a three-game losing streak, including suffering one of the biggest upsets in recent memory to TCU.

The calendar says it has only been 17 days since TCU shocked college basketball with its upset over then-fifth-ranked Kansas.

But the frenetic, I-don’t-believe-what-I-just-saw moment feels like a lifetime ago.

No matter what Kansas does the rest of the season — whether the Jayhawks go on to contend for a national title or fizzle early in the tournament —the win is surely to remain the Horned Frogs’ all-time greatest upset and remain in the conversation of biggest upsets by anyone in the past 20 years.

For TCU coach Trent Johnson, though, “that’s a long, long time ago.”

“It was just one of those games,” Johnson said before a practice this week. “The ball didn’t go in for them for whatever reason. A lot of stuff happened there that needed to happen for us to have a chance.”

The ninth-ranked Jayhawks (22-4, 10-3 in the Big 12) have regained their footing since losing three consecutive games, with the Frogs’ 62-55 upset sandwiched in the middle. KU has won three in a row, including a double-overtime nail-biter at Oklahoma State on Wednesday, entering its rematch with TCU at 3 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.

The Frogs (10-16, 1-12) are coming off their best-played game since the Kansas win, Tuesday’s nine-point loss to Texas.

“We played better,” said Johnson, noting the Frogs’ 16-to-10 assists-to-turnover ratio. “Texas played well. They’ve got all their guys back and they’re talented. A bounce here, a bounce there, it changes things. It was hard because the guys played well.”

Johnson didn’t agree that in some ways TCU played a better game in the Texas loss than in the Kansas win. TCU shot better in the loss (45.7 percent) and outrebounded the Longhorns. He also disagreed that the upset made sure TCU had the full attention of its ensuing opponents, the next three of which beat the Frogs by an average of 24 points.

“There’s too good of coaches and too talented of teams in our league for anybody to have a lack of respect for competition,” he said. “Bottom line is, since we’re talking about Kansas under Bill Self’s tutelage, I don’t think those guys have ever taken anybody lightly.”

Especially at home. The Jayhawks had won 33 consecutive home games until OSU beat them on Feb. 2. It was only the eighth loss at Allen Fieldhouse in Self’s 10-year tenure. Johnson marvels at the steady success of the programs at Kansas and Texas. He’s hoping to build something similar at TCU.

“People don’t realize how hard it is to win games in college basketball, because of the turnover, because of how many talented, well-coached teams there are. It’s not easy,” he said. “You look at some of the teams that are really talented and really well-coached and some of the upsets and losses they’ve got. Energy and playing hard is so much a part of everything. Winning is hard. That’s why you have so much respect for what Kansas has done under Bill.”

No matter the legacy of the program — and none come more rich than the Jayhawks — winning isn’t a foregone conclusion. That was on display at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Feb. 6.

“It’s hard to sustain that,” Johnson said. “But that’s what happens when you build a program and get good leadership, get good players. They pass it on. This is how we do things here. We don’t do things like that; that’s unacceptable.”

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