🏀 Agbaji, Braun Lift Kansas to Home Win Over TCU
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks finished strong Thursday night, coming from behind in the second half to top visiting TCU 72-68 at Allen Fieldhouse in the back end of a home-and-home.
The win improved the Jayhawks to 24-6 overall and 13-4 in Big 12 Conference play. TCU dropped to 19-10 and 8-9 in the league. No. 6/7 Kansas will now host Texas on Saturday and can clinch at least a share of the conference championship with a win.
Looking to avenge a 74-64 loss to the Horned Frogs two days prior, the Jayhawks came out inspired Thursday in front of a capacity crowd. Ochai Agbaji, who led all scorers with 22 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the game to give Kansas a 12-4 lead at the first media timeout. Kansas hit four of its first five shots and went on a 7-0 run to take the eight-point lead.
The Jayhawks kept building from there, extending their run to 13-2 and taking an 18-6 lead when Agbaji hit a layup off a pass from Christian Braun. After a basket from TCU, Mitch Lightfoot converted a hook shot to push the lead back to 12 at 20-8 at the second media timeout of the half.
The 12-point lead was the largest Kansas would hold, however, as TCU went to work in the final 10 minutes of the first half. The Jayhawks managed to keep their lead to at least seven, until JaKobe Coles hit a 3-pointer at the 5:06 mark to make it a four-point game at 26-22. The Horned Frogs cut it to two less than two minutes later, and finally pulled even with the Jayhawks with 1:30 left in the half when Mike Miles hit a 3-pointer to knot the game at 33.
Braun hit a layup to make it 35-33 in favor of the Jayhawks, but the Horned Frogs scored with 33 seconds left to tie it at 35 at the halftime break. Kansas shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening half at 13-for-26. Agbaji had 14 points in the first half on 6-for-9 shooting.
Kansas scored the first basket of the half on a Jalen Wilson layup, before TCU tied the game right back up. Kansas again went up by two at 39-37, before TCU tied it at 39. From there, TCU hit a 3-pointer to take a 42-39 at the 16:42 mark to take a lead it would not give back for close to eight minutes.
The Jayhawks finally pulled back in front with 9:03 to play when Braun hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Wilson to make it 56-55. The two teams traded leads again, before Agbaji took control. He first drew a foul for a one-and-one and hit both free throws to put Kansas up one at 60-59. The senior then picked up a steal and took it the other end of the court for a dunk to give him 22 points and put Kansas up three at 62-59 with 6:29 to play. That marked the largest Kansas lead since leading 33-30 in the first half.
The Horned Frogs got it back to one, but then David McCormack hit a pair of free throws to make it 64-61, before Braun hit another 3-pointer to put Kansas up 67-61 with 3:26 left, forcing a TCU timeout. Kansas pushed the lead to eight when Dajuan Harris Jr., hit a layup to make it 69-61. TCU got it down to three at 71-68, but Miles missed a layup and Wilson hit one free throw to make it a four-point final.
Braun finished with 12 points on just 4 of 4 shooting, while adding six rebounds in 35 minutes. Harris had 11 points and three assists, while McCormack finished with 10 points. Wilson had nine points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-digit rebound game of the season.
Emmanuel Miller led TCU with 18 points.
Kansas will host Senior Day on Saturday against Texas at 3 p.m., on ESPN.