No. 8 Kansas Turns It On to Top TCU, 81-72
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The stoic Perry Ellis broke into a big grin. The junior forward took flight, locked onto an alley-oop pass from Frank Mason III and crushed the ball through the rim with a one-handed dunk. His game-high 23 points led No. 8/8 Kansas past TCU Saturday afternoon, 81-72.
Ellis couldn’t help but smile. The monster dunk, one of his four on the afternoon, evolved into a three-point play that punched the gas on KU’s final push to victory. After receiving several questions about bouncing back from the final play of the West Virginia game, Ellis answered them all on Saturday. His 23 points came off a 9-for-10 shooting performance and a game-high seven rebounds.
Kansas (22-5, 11-3) suffered a last-second loss in its last time out before returning home to host TCU (16-11, 3-11). Dealt an undesirable fate, the Horned Frogs were matched against a Kansas squad that is well-equipped in responding. In Bill Self’s 12-year tenure, the Jayhawks are now 65-9 in games following a loss.
Freshman guard Devonte’ Graham was a perfect
7-for-7 from the floor for a career-high
20 points.TCU didn’t care. The Horned Frogs came to Lawrence following back-to-back wins against Oklahoma State and Kansas State, holding both to just 55 points. For the first time since November, TCU had shot 50 percent or better in consecutive games and looked to better that streak in Lawrence.
Kansas saw to it that wouldn’t happen. While the Horned Frogs held mulitiple leads through the first frame, Kansas went to halftime hitting six of its final eight shots and held a 35-29 lead at the break. The Jayhawks fueled the fire in the second half, shooting 62.5 percent (15-for-24) led by the relentless efforts of Ellis and freshman guard Devonte’ Graham. The duo shot a combined 10-for-10 in the second half for 24 points.
Graham was incredible. He posted the first 20-point game of his career, chalking up an even 20 on a flawless 7-of-7 shooting performance. He blasted his previous career-high of 14 points, set more than three months ago in the season opener. Mason contributed 14 points and led the Jayhawks with five assists.
While TCU didn’t keep up its winning or 50 percent-shooting streaks, the Horned Frogs did fight to make it close. They made eight of their final 12 shots in the last seven minutes to prevent Kansas from running away with it. Senior guards Trey Ziegler and Kyan Anderson led the Frogs with 20 and 14 points, respectively. KU’s defense forced a 10-to-13 assist-to-turnover ratio and a 40.7 shooting efficiency.
A flurry of swinging arms, blocks, transition sprints and aggressive drives to the basket opened the afternoon. TCU benefitted from six quick fastbreak points, putting the Horned Frogs up 8-4 directly after the first media timeout. As Self rifled through different personnel combinations, the Jayhawks found their rhythm. Ellis connected on a pair of baskets, sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr., knocked down KU’s first three of the day and Graham nailed both free throws to spark a 9-2 run. Kansas pulled in front, 13-11, but a blowout would not be in the works.
TCU matched the Jayhawks punch-for-punch. Twelve minutes into the half, Karviar Shepherd went up for a dunk and weathered the foul, resulting in free throws that tied the game at 18-18. The Jayhawks fell into a turnover rut, surrendering four possessions in a row when Kenrich Williams added to it with a spot three-pointer. Self used his first timeout with KU trailing, 21-18.
Jayhawk backcourt to the rescue. Graham burst onto the scene with two three-pointers in 60 seconds, while Mason swiped a TCU possession, took it all the way down the floor and finished with a behind-the-back fastbreak layup. The 10-3 KU charge returned the lead to the home team.
Zigler knotted the game at 24-24 with a layup with five minutes remaining in the half, but the Frogs would get no closer. Heading to halftime, Kansas received another three-point boost from sophomore guard Brannen Greene and four more points from Ellis to send the teams to break on an 11-5 Jayhawk run and a 35-29 halftime lead.
On a mission to protect its hot streak, TCU came out to a rare four-point play when Mason was whistled for the foul on Anderson’s made three-pointer. A long jumper from Amric Fields watched the Horned Frogs cut their deficit to 37-35 in less than two minutes.
Moments later, however, Kansas received its own good news. In a mere 14-second span, Shepherd was called for three-straight fouls to give him four for the game. Tied for the game’s rebound lead at the time, he was relegated to the bench with four fouls. Now with more room to work, the Jayhawk big men used it. Junior forward Jamari Traylor and Ellis combined for five-straight buckets, accounting for KU’s first double-digit lead of the day, 47-37.
On paper, TCU shot less than 30 percent to start the second half, yet the Horned Frogs stayed on KU’s heels. Free throws from Anderson and a three from Fields hacked into the Kansas lead, 47-42.
Entering the final 10 minutes of the game, Kansas moved into position to claim control. Traylor blocked a ball into the hands of Ellis, which ended on the other end as a Graham layup. The Ellis-Graham show continued as the duo tallied eight points in a row before Traylor joined them with a pair of free throws, handing the Jayhawks a sizable lead, 59-47.
Ellis took over with his one-handed, smile-inducing slam and kept right after it with a breakaway dunk on the next play. The scoring onslaught certainly looked like the pathway to a blowout. Kansas pulled away, 66-50 – but TCU would not surrender. The two teams combined to shoot a combined 13-of-16 in the last seven minutes of the afternoon, forcing the Horned Frogs into striking distance.
Handling the pressure, Kansas locked down to close it out and even allowed time for the team’s newest walk-on to make a quick appearance. Senior manager Chris Huey suited up for the game at the behest of Self. With 35 seconds on the clock, he checked into the game with a roar from the sold-out crowd. Riding the feel-good occurrence, the Jayhawks wrapped up the 81-72 win.
Kansas will play its final of four ESPN Big Monday appearances in 2015 when it travels to Kansas State on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. (Central). The Jayhawks return home to host Texas on Feb. 28 at 4 p.m., on ESPN. Kansas’ senior night, with Christian Garrett being the lone KU senior on the roster, will be Tuesday, March 3, against West Virginia on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (27/30), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (27/62), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (19/19), Jr. F Perry Ellis (27/64), Fr. F Cliff Alexander (5/5)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads, 9-1
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (225-consecutive sellouts)
- Made Kansas 22-5 overall, the 26th-straight season that the Jayhawks have won 22 games.
- Bettered Kansas to 11-3 in league play, giving KU 11 or more conference victories for the 21st-consecutive season (beginning in 1994-95).
- Extended Kansas’ home win streak to 22 games, making KU 726-109 all-time inside Allen Fieldhouse, including 188-9 under Bill Self.
- Added to KU’s all-time series advantage, which Kansas now leads 9-1, including a 4-0 mark in games played in Allen Fieldhouse.
- Improved Self to 347-74 while at Kansas, 13-4 against TCU (7-1 at Kansas) and 554-179 overall.
- Made KU 2,148-827 all-time.
- KU’s 58.3 percent from the field marked the highest the Jayhawks have shot in Big 12 Conference play this year and the second-best percentage overall on the season, trailing only KU’s 59.6 percent against Rider on Nov. 24, 2014.
- Over the last four games the Jayhawks have shot 51.8 percent (100-of-198) from the field.
- Kansas shot 62.5 percent (15-for-24) in the second half, marking the seventh time this season that KU shot 60 percent or better in a half.
- In games following a loss in the Bill Self era, Kansas is now 65-9 with 41 of those wins coming at Allen Fieldhouse.
- Kansas went to halftime on a tear, sinking six of its last eight attempts. With the game tied at 24-24 with five minutes till the break, the Jayhawks put together an 11-5 run to take a 35-29 lead to halftime.
- The Jayhawks are now 17-1 when leading at halftime.
- With Saturday’s 33-29 rebound discrepancy in favor of TCU, Kansas has now been out-rebounded in three consecutive games (Baylor, 33-32, 2/14 and West Virginia, 37-32, 2/16).
- Kansas has not been out-rebounded in three-straight games since the final three contests of the 2006-07 season when the Jayhawks lost the battle of the boards 32-30 against Kentucky (3/18/07), 31-26 against Southern Illinois (3/22/07) and 31-28 against UCLA (3/24/07) in March of 2007.
- Thanks in large part to freshman G Devonte’ Graham’s 20 points, the Kansas bench bounced back and outscored its opponent for the first time in three games (37-19 on Saturday).
- Kansas is now 12-0 on the season when the bench scores 25 or more points.
- Junior F Perry Ellis totaled 23 points on Saturday to push his career total to 1,057, passing Cole Aldrich (48th, 1,038), Carl Henry (47th, 1,044), Bill Bridges (46th, 1,045), Ryan Robertson (45th, 1,055) and tying Kelly Knight (44th, 1,057) on KU’s all-time scoring list.
- Ellis’ 90 percent shooting percentage (9-for-10) on Saturday marked the highest percentage a Jayhawk has shot this season with a minimum of 10 shots attempted. Ellis’ 90 percent is the fourth-highest total by a Jayhawk in a conference game since the 1988-89 season.
- Ellis joined Markieff Morris (9-for-10, 90 percent), Julian Wright (10-for-11, 91 percent) and Mark Randall (11-for-12, 91 percent) for the highest percentages in a single conference game since the 1988-89 season.
- Ellis has now shot better than 90 percent (10 or more shot attempts) in two games over his career at Kansas with the other being an 11-of-12 performance against Iowa State on March 14, 2014.
- Freshman G Devonte’ Graham set a new career-high with 20 points, the first 20-point game of his career. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor.
- Graham’s seven made field goals without a miss ties his for third-most at Kansas since the record started being kept in 1988-89. Joel Embiid (vs. Iona, 11/19/13) was the most recent Jayhawk to hit seven without a miss. Only Tarik Black (9 vs. Texas Tech, 3/5/14) and Kenny Gregory (8 vs. Texas Tech, 2/5/00) have outdone him.
- Graham has a thing for the Horned Frogs. The freshman guard is now a perfect 10-for-10 from the field in his career against TCU.
- Graham hit two three-pointers in the first half, his first treys in six games (at TCU, 1/28). His 2-for-2 three-point peffort tied a career-high in three-pointers (2).
- At halftime, Graham led all players with 11 points.
- Over the previous nine contests dating back to a game against Oklahoma on Jan. 19, 2015 Graham had scored a combined 23 points.
- Graham’s seven successful field goals are a career-best.
- With both Ellis and Graham reaching the 20-point plateau, Kansas had its first game with two or more 20-point scorers since Ellis (30 points) teamed up with Andrew Wiggins (22 points) against Iowa State on March 14, 2014.
- Senior manager Chris Huey was awarded the opportunity to dress for the game. He entered Saturday’s contest with 35 seconds remaining and was 0-1 from the field.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III snapped his 21-game streak in double figures against Baylor (2/14), but got right back after it in two-games against West Virginia and TCU. Against the Mountaineers he scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while on Saturday Mason registered 14 points and made 5-of-8 shots.
POSTGAME QUOTES KANSAS
Kansas head coach Bill Self
On Devonte’ Graham’s big game:
“(It was his) His haircut, I mean there is no question. He was prepared and got it trimmed yesterday. [Laughter] He was great though. We had some starters not really produce and when you have three starters combine for seven points, we needed our bench to be good. Certainly, Devonte’ was good, and I thought Brannen Greene played well also. But we don’t win the game without Devonte’.”
On the importance of Perry Ellis playing well after the end result of the West Virginia game:
“I think it was more important for our team to come out and have a big game than anything else. The missed shot against West Virginia; we haven’t even made a big deal of that at all, he just missed a shot. He was off-balanced and rushed. I know he cared and that it hurt him that he did miss the shot. I know he probably felt like that he let us down, but he didn’t. He played very well in the game. (Michael) Jordan, if I’m not mistaken, missed a lot of shots too, and everybody does. If you play competitive ball, you do miss some shots. So I hope that wasn’t his motivation to play well today. I hope it was just because it was the next game and that’s how he needs to play, because I thought he played very well.”
On what went into the decision to suit up Chris Huey:
“We’ve talked about it for over a month now, because you’ve got to make sure he’s eligible and go through all of the things that you have to do. The bottom line is that he does a lot with our team, more than the other managers, from a playing standpoint. He’s the biggest guy, so he guards and beats people with dummies, all 140 pounds him. So I decided that because he’s a senior that it would be a pretty cool deal. He’s not going to suit anymore – this is his one shot. Certainly, I let the players know yesterday what was going on and they were really excited for him. I knew it meant a lot to him, growing up in Kansas City. Certainly, I think it meant a lot to his family, so that was pretty cool that we were able to do that.”
On the Kansas State’s recent struggles
and playing them on Monday:
“I don’t think it matters. I don’t think it matters what we’ve done, I don’t think it matters what they’ve done. I think it’ll be a great crowd. It’ll be juiced, it’ll be emotional and certainly, we’ll get a great effort from them and hopefully they’ll get a great effort from us. I don’t see anything that would lead me to believe that since they haven’t shot the ball well, that they’ll shoot poorly against us, because they will have a tendency to raise their level, just like most teams do.”
On his concerns about Kansas State:
“Well, I would say their half-court defense is terrific. Their half-court defense is terrific and they really rebound the ball well. It seems like they go after every ball. That would be the biggest things.”
Kansas junior forward Perry Ellis
On his big dunk:
“That was one of the better dunks I have had. It got my teammates amped up, myself as well.”
On Devonte’ Graham shooting well:
“Graham was fantastic and really stepped up, especially in the first half.”
On senior forward Chris Huey getting into the game today:
“It is good, he helps us out so much with the things he does. It is just great to see him out there.”
Kansas freshman guard Devonte’ Graham
On his play today:
“It was all about mindset for me today. I just tried to get in the paint and make plays for my teammates. I was more aggressive than I have been.”
On his shot:
“I think it might have been a little bit of luck. There are definitely some things that I still need to fix; I haven’t been shooting the ball well. I am just glad that I made shots and able to help the team.”
On driving the ball today:
“I could tell on the way they were covering the ball screen (that I could get to the rim). Coach (Self) was still telling us to find ways to get in the paint.”
On Chris Huey:
“Not many people know how much he helps us every day. He actually goes against Jamari (Traylor), Perry (Ellis), Landen (Lucas) and Cliff (Alexander) every day (on the scout team). He works hard and deserved to be out there.”
Kansas junior forward Jamari Traylor
On Perry Ellis’ dunk:
“It was up there, they made a great play. (He) got the dunk, came back and got a steal with another dunk. I don’t know how to rank it, but it is definitely up there.”
On Chris Huey playing:
“That guy works hard all the time. He is a special guy. It was good to have him out there, he really liked that. It was very special.”
POSTGAME QUOTES TCU
TCU head coach Trent Johnson
“That is probably about as good as we have played on the road. We fought late into the second half and they got a couple of breakaway transition dunks and the crowd went cray. Not that this crowd is subdued. I thought we responded pretty well. I took Kyan (Anderson) out because, physically, they were man handling us. It’s tough because we played two games well at home. We thought if we could keep this thing in the half court we could give ourselves a chance to compete. It’s tough, but there is a reason why they are who they are.”
On growth of the team in today’s game:
“There is no question, because obviously they’ll run out on you in the blink of an eye and you’ll be 10 to 15 (points) down in the blink of an eye, so I thought we responded pretty well. Obviously, we had to take Kyan (Anderson) out because I thought he was worn down a little bit. They did a really good job and Mason (Frank Mason III) did a really good job defensively. (Devonte’) Graham is good. They are talented; really, really talented, so for us to be in this position to where we have a chance down the stretch it speaks volumes to our maturity and how we’ve grown. Our margin of error is pretty slim in this league, so I can’t fault our effort or our execution at times. They put it on you really to be good. I mean, really good, offensively. They are just so good mentally, physically and they’re tough. Obviously, they’re well coached.”
On Perry Ellis and TCU’s strategy to stop him:
“You don’t even want me to answer that. He’s really good. He will be playing for money one day. We tried to do the best we could to take his angles away and he bounces it really well to his left. I think Karviar (Shepherd) got really timid, because he was in foul trouble. Chris Washburn got into foul trouble, so he got timid. That’s a product of him being the accountable player that he is. You have to pick your poison with teams like this. Either it’s Perry (Ellis), or (Frank) Mason. Oubre (Kelly Oubre, Jr.) is really coming along, as is (Cliff) Alexander. We tried to do as good as a job as we could, but (we gave up) 81 points. For us to score 72 points gave us our chance.”
On Devonte’ Graham’s career-high scoring performance:
“The last time I checked, you don’t come to Kansas unless you can play. He’s a pretty good player. I think he got injured early on, but he can play. They’ve got about six or seven guys that are capable of having, against us at times, a career high. It wasn’t like the shots he took that make you say, ‘My goodness I can’t believe you made that.’ You know he’d get to the rim with Trey (Zeigler) guarding him. He’s a though player and made though shots. Pick your poison.”
On keeping up his team’s momentum:
“We beat Oklahoma State playing our best basketball of the year. We beat K-State and played our best basketball of the year. I’m not into moral victories. We have to get home, have a day off and get ready for Texas Tech.”
TCU senior guard Trey Zeigler
On this being a good offensive game for him, but how tough it can be to match the offensive power that KU has:
“Yeah they played really well in the second half. We knew they were going to go on runs and we were going to take some punches, but we just tried to play through those runs.”
On if he was trying to help out on Perry Ellis’ side at all:
“Yeah we tried to help, but I was guarding (Devonte’) Graham and he was hitting some good shots. We went into the game (believing) we were going to help each other set off their guards a little bit, but they all shot the ball well so it was hard.”
On if he thought TCU played a better game against Kansas this time than the previous time the two teams met:
“I think we did. This is one of the toughest places in the country to play, but we felt like we were in the game for the most part. We want to continue to play well and finish out the season strong.”
On TCU staying in the game and not quitting after Perry Ellis made consecutive points and the Horned Frogs were down by 16 points:
“Yeah, that was one of our biggest things. We knew we were going to take a punch or two because they’re a good team, but we wanted to make sure we kept battling. We feel good about where we’re at right now. We had just won two (games) in a row and we were hoping to get this one, but we have a good stretch coming up where we can play some good basketball at the end of the season.”
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