Talented Kansas just too good for Horned Frogs

01/25/2014 11:29 PM

01/26/2014 12:07 AM

So quick. So dominating. So Kansas.

Seven or eight minutes into Saturday’s game, TCU was clearly flustered by Kansas’ impenetrable thicket of bodies and hands in the paint, and the Jayhawks’ Joel Embiid already had three blocked shots and seven points.

The only question that remained unanswered was, “How did Kansas ever lose four games?”

In the Big 12 Conference universe, clearly there is no one better. Not now, after the Jayhawks have run their league record to a perfect 6-0. And likely not in March, either.

The No. 8 Jayhawks snuffed the Horned Frogs in the first half, and the rest was easy in Saturday night’s 91-69 KU victory.

Revenge may appear to be a popular theme in reports of this game.

But hold off on the “vengeful Jayhawks” bit. Kansas may be loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans, but they look like all steak to me.

TCU officials said that 15 pro scouts were in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum for the game. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the attraction was.

The sorta scary part is that coach Trent Johnson’s Frogs really didn’t play that poorly. The 30.8 percent (8 of 26) that TCU shot from the floor in the first half wasn’t all the fault of the Frogs’ chronic shooting inconsistencies.

Embiid and Kansas were contesting everything that dared to venture into the paint, and they deflected most of it. Rather than force the issue, the Frogs retreated to the 10- and 15-foot range, and they couldn’t respond.

During one stretch, TCU went 1 for 7 from the floor, and Kansas’ 19-12 lead exploded to 43-22.

“Boy, they’re good,” TCU’s Johnson said afterward. “I don’t think they have a weakness.”

The record shows that Kansas, somehow, did drop four nonconference games earlier in the season. They lost close decisions to Villanova, Colorado, Florida and San Diego State — teams who began the weekend with a combined record of 62-10.

But once Big 12 play began three weeks ago, the Jayhawks have seemed to kick it into a higher gear, beating four ranked teams in a row.

Revenge? If anything, Kansas could have been excused for having a letdown against the Frogs, winless in the Big 12, after the Jayhawks’ big wins over Oklahoma, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

But so quick. So dominating. So Kansas.

Embiid is a 7-foot freshman from Cameroon who has twice this season been voted the Big 12’s newcomer of the week. He now has 53 blocked shots and the full attention of the NBA scouts who were in attendance.

The Jayhawks’ best freshman, however, in their embarrassment of youthful riches, is Andrew Wiggins, who had 27 points and five rebounds and mostly showed himself to be the best player on the floor.

“He’s special,” Johnson said. “From my little shallow point of view, I’d say they probably have six pros.”

The Frogs, meanwhile, have dreams. And freshmen. And some promising talent waiting in the wings.

But the Big 12 is deep and dangerous for most teams, let alone a program just starting over.

“We’re not deep enough to compete with that,” Johnson said. “That’s just a good basketball team. I would be very, very surprised if they’re not back here in April.”

The TCU coach was talking about the NCAA Final Four that will be played down I-30 at AT&T Stadium.

“That’s a basketball team that really competes,” Johnson said of Bill Self’s KU bunch. “They’re not caught up in their ranking. Bill’s teams are always focused.”

So focused. So talented. So much for any chance that the Frogs had of replicating their stunning upset of last season.

Like Johnson said, boy — they’re good.

About Gil LeBreton

Gil LeBreton


Gil LeBreton has been entertaining and informing Star-Telegram readers for more than 34 years. He worked for newspapers in his hometown of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Kansas City and Baltimore before finding his true home in Texas. Over the years he's covered 25 Super Bowls, 16 Olympic Games (9 summer, 7 winter), soccer's World Cup, the Masters, the Tour de France, saw Muhammad Ali box, Paul Newman drive a race car and Prince Albert try to steer a bobsled.

A Vietnam veteran, Gil and his wife Gail have two children -- J.P., a computer game designer in San Francisco, and Elise, an actress living in New York. Gil also once briefly held the WBC Junior Welterweight title belt -- he had to, because the guy he was interviewing, champ Bruce Curry, had to suddenly step into the men's room.

Email Gil at gilebreton@star-telegram.com

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