TCU’s first opportunity to make a national splash under new men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon offered lots of possibilities Friday night at Schollmaier Arena.
The crowd got loud. The Horned Frogs started quickly, especially on the defensive end. And for most of the first half, TCU had third-ranked Kansas on the ropes.
But the Frogs could not keep them there, or deliver a knockout punch, once the Jayhawks began finding the range from the field.
Kansas, led by point guard Frank Mason and center Landen Lucas, shook off a pair of double-digit deficits from the first half and outlasted TCU 86-80 in front of a near-capacity crowd (6,579) and an ESPN2 national television audience in the Big 12 opener for both schools.
It marked the first home loss of the season for TCU (11-2, 0-1 Big 12), which kept the game tight almost to the finish behind a career-high 28 points and nine rebounds from forward Vladimir Brodziansky. But the Frogs were undone by a 15-8 deficit in turnovers.
“This is a very disappointing loss for us. We played good,” Dixon said. “But we’ve got to cut down on turnovers. That hurt us on the offensive end. We’ve got to be a below-10 team and that was the difference.”
Kansas led throughout the second half but never by more than eight points. The Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0), now 21-0 in Big 12 conference openers, saw TCU cut the deficit to 80-76 with 2:25 remaining on a steal and layup by TCU’s Alex Robinson.
But a pair of layups on KU’s next two possessions, the final one by Mason (22 points, seven assists) with 1:12 remaining, gave KU an eight-point cushion to protect the rest of the way.
For TCU, a fast start that included a pair of 10-point leads got away from them late in the first half. TCU’s last lead, 28-26, came on a Michael Williams’ layup with 8:00 remaining in the first half.
TCU pulled within one point at the 18:06 mark when Brodziansky made 3 of 4 free throws after technicals were assessed on Kansas guard Josh Jackson, as well as the Jayhawks’ bench. But the Frogs could never retake the lead as Mason handled things outside while Lucas (15 points, game-high 17 rebounds) thrived inside.
The Frogs did manage to force some tense moments for Kansas coach Bill Self.
“I think TCU’s good,” Self said. “They were quicker than we were and played smarter than we did early on. That’s a good team.”
From a TCU standpoint, the game could not have started much better. The Frogs scored the first seven points while Kansas missed its first seven shots. Eventually, the Frogs built leads at 17-7 and 22-12 while Kansas struggled from the field.
But the Jayhawks, after a 1-for-12 start, began finding the range. Kansas closed the first half on a 17-for-24 shooting surge to take a 48-44 lead at halftime.
The Jayhawks never trailed after intermission, despite another double-double performance from TCU guard Kenrich Williams (11 points, 11 rebounds). But the junior from Waco was not satisfied because of the loss.
“We learned we’ve got to come out and compete. It’s going to be like this every night in the Big 12,” Williams said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds. We’ve got to fix that. But we competed from the start and this is a great game for us moving forward. We can build off this.”
KANSAS (12-1): Lucas 7-9 1-3 15, Jackson 2-8 0-0 4, Mykhailiuk 4-7 1-2 12, Mason 6-13 9-10 22, Graham 3-14 4-4 11, Bragg 2-5 1-2 5, Vick 5-11 4-4 17. Totals 29-67 20-25 86.
TCU (11-2): Brodziansky 9-19 10-11 28, Miller 2-6 2-5 8, K.Williams 3-9 3-4 11, Fisher 1-5 2-2 4, Robinson 5-10 0-1 10, Washburn 0-0 0-0 0, Shepherd 1-1 0-0 2, B.Parrish 3-5 0-0 9, Bane 2-4 0-0 4, M.Williams 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 27-61 19-25 80.
Halftime—Kansas 48-44. 3-Point Goals—Kansas 8-22 (Mykhailiuk 3-5, Vick 3-6, Mason 1-4, Graham 1-7), TCU 7-18 (B.Parrish 3-4, K.Williams 2-5, Miller 2-5, Fisher 0-1, Bane 0-1, Robinson 0-2). Fouled Out—Jackson. Rebounds—Kansas 39 (Lucas 17), TCU 36 (K.Williams 11). Assists—Kansas 20 (Mason 7), TCU 19 (Fisher 9). Total Fouls—Kansas 20, TCU 20. Technicals—Jackson, Kansas team. A—6,579 (7,201).