🏀 Grant-Foster Comes Off Bench, Gives Jayhawks Needed Spark

by Sarah Pickel

After a slow first half in Thursday night’s matchup against TCU, the No. 15 Kansas Jayhawks needed a spark to get something going in the second half.

At the break, Coach Bill Self gave junior Tyon Grant-Foster the news that he was going to be starting the half, as well as redshirt freshman DaJuan Harris. The energy these two brought gave Kansas the edge they needed to push through and get the win at Allen Fieldhouse.

“When Coach told me at halftime that I was going to start, at that moment, I just knew that we needed a spark, and not on the offensive end, but the defensive end. We weren’t really scoring, but I knew that if we started to get stops then the lead would come off the basket.”

Tyon Grant Foster

The Jayhawks came into the game against TCU having been on a three-game losing streak, and they were ready to turn things around. After the loss at Oklahoma, they needed change, and they were ready to be better.

“It’s a new season. We started our new season right after the game at Oklahoma. I can tell you, those three practices ahead of this game have been probably the three best practices that we’ve had all year. We’re trying to continue that and have a good one on Friday too to get ready for the game at Tennessee,” Grant-Foster said.

In the first 20 minutes of Thursday night’s game, things were not working on the offensive end. Missed passing opportunities paired with a struggle to make shots fall made for a low scoring first half. The Jayhawks went into the locker room down by one with a halftime score of 19-18. The team guarded well the first half, but something was missing.

It was the second 20 minutes of play that were most notable in Thursday’s Big 12 matchup. Coming out of the locker room, the Jayhawks more than doubled their first half rebounds (11) in the second half with 24 boards, and in turn, they had more scoring opportunities. Kansas went from shooting 30.8% (8-26) from the field in the first half to shooting 50% (15-30) from the field in the second.

“We decided to go more athletic the second half and I thought it was pretty good. But if you go really watch it, that team that started the second half also was down seven when we subbed (in). They sparked us and then they came back and we go down seven — if I’m not mistaken, 36-29 — and from that point on I thought that we played really well. We played tight. There’s pressure on these kids; we played tight and we didn’t make our free throws and a lot of things, but we really rebounded the second half,” Coach Bill Self said.

Grant-Foster helped start the momentum in the second half. Coming out of the locker room, the junior guard put up nine points and grabbed five rebounds, including one offensive rebound off a missed free throw in the second half. Harris also started the second half and helped get things going for the Jayhawks with five points and three steals.

Once the spark was lit, junior forward David McCormack and senior guard Marcus Garrett kept the momentum going each with five rebounds in the second half, including four offensive boards from McCormack. The big man also had his first career 3-pointer when junior guard Ochai Agbaji set him up for a jumper from behind the arc. It was clear that this Kansas team was able to put its first half behind and continue to play the game in the second.

When asked what he would bring to the team in the future, Grant-Foster said “I’ll do what I did tonight, just come in and be aggressive and be smart at the same time. Guard on defense and rebound.”

“One thing that brought me to Kansas was the culture and the history that the guys before me have built,” Grant-Foster said.

It is safe to say that the junior guard is happy to be a part of this team and this tradition, and he is looking forward to continuing to leave his mark here. Grant-Foster will work hard to continue to improve and be the spark this team needs to continue to do well.

“I had given him some chances all year long and we can see that he’s athletic and we can see that he has talent. Tonight, he was more ready to play and more ready to be locked in, and hopefully this will springboard him too,” Coach Bill Self said.

Looking ahead, Grant-Foster and the Jayhawks have a quick turnaround as they get ready to head to face No. 18 Tennessee in Knoxville for the Big 12/SEC matchup.