TCU’s roster has been hamstrung by injuries, transfer rules and academic issues. Added to the list Saturday afternoon was game-changing foul trouble.
Maybe it wouldn’t have made much difference against seventh-ranked Kansas in front of 16,300 at Allen Fieldhouse. Even with a full roster of healthy scholarship players, the Horned Frogs probably would have struggled against the Jayhawks, who ran away with a 95-65 win despite playing without injured center Joel Embiid.
TCU (9-15, 0-12 Big 12) could hardly keep up with Karviar Shepherd and Jarvis Ray in almost instant foul trouble. Shepherd, who played a season-low 17 minutes, picked up his first foul five seconds into the game. His second came 3 minutes, 14 seconds later and he played just four minutes before halftime. He picked up his third foul one minute into the second half.
Ray lasted a little longer but left the game with two fouls with 11:33 left and played just eight first-half minutes. He eventually fouled out late with the game well out of reach.
“I’ve got two walk-ons on the back line in a zone trying to go up against guys who will go play making money, so I can’t fault our kids’ effort,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said of Christian Gore and Thomas Montigel, both 6-foot-2.
“When you miss [open shots], it puts a lot of pressure on a team like us defensively, because we’re not as skilled; we’re not as talented. We’re not what we need to be right now.”
A heroic first-half effort by Kyan Anderson kept the Frogs close despite the absence of Shepherd and Ray. Anderson scored 19 of TCU’s final 21 points in the first half and had 21 points at the break. Kansas led 47-40.
In the second half, Kansas (19-6, 10-2) focused on Anderson, denying him the ball and collapsing down to prevent his penetration in the paint. He made his lone second-half field goal attempt and finished with a team-high 25 points and five assists.
“They made an adjustment, just trying to keep the ball out of my hands, making it tough for me on every play,” said Anderson, who has scored at least 25 points the past three games. “[Kansas] came out [in the second half] with a lot of intensity [on defense], which led to easy baskets on offense. That’s what good teams do.”
The Jayhawks shot a season-high 61.5 percent from the floor. Guards Wayne Selden Jr. and Andrew Wiggins combined to make 14 of 24 shots. But nobody on the floor was as hot as forward Perry Ellis, who had career highs with 32 points and five assists. It’s the most points for a Kansas player since Ben McLemore’s 36 against West Virginia in March 2013.
Ellis made 13 of 15 field goals, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range. He also shared the team lead with eight rebounds and added two steals. Ellis had just eight points on 2 of 8 shooting in KU’s win at TCU on Jan. 25.
“This is probably the best offensive game that Perry has had, as far as most complete,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He went strong and on one of his misses, he got it back and put it right in.”
That happened several times Saturday and has been a demoralizing trend this season for TCU, which lost its second consecutive game by at least 30 points.
But Johnson couldn’t fault his team’s effort as he did Wednesday after Baylor beat the Frogs by 33.
“I thought we competed probably as well as we have in a while,” he said, before heaping praise on KU. “They’re really good. They play for their jersey, they’re selfless, they’re really physical. They just wore us down.”