No. 9/10 Kansas Advances Past TCU, 64-59
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Monday afternoon, freshman Kelly Oubre, Jr., told reporters how amped he was for the postseason. In his first opportunity, Oubre’s actions spoke louder than words. The rookie powered the Jayhawks with a career-high 25 points to push No. 9/10 Kansas past TCU in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Thursday afternoon inside Sprint Center.
Armed with the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament for the seventh-straight season, Kansas (25-7) learned on Wednesday evening that TCU (18-15) would be its first foe as the Horned Frogs defeated Kansas State to advance. The matchup meant the third close call of the year between the two as KU won both of its regular-season contests against the Horned Frogs, but neither came easily. Saturday was no different.
Sophomore forward Landen Lucas led KU with
seven rebounds and added 13 points.Kansas withstood 13 lead changes and its second three-pointless effort in the last three games to collect the win and move on to a meeting with No. 16/16 Baylor (24-8) in the Big 12 semifinals. The win also marked the 350th Kansas victory for head coach Bill Self, making him the fastest coach in KU history to reach the 350 mark.
For the second-straight game, Kansas would have to make do without its leading scorer. Self announced that junior forward Perry Ellis would not play on Thursday, and would instead take an extra day of rest to continue healing a sprained knee. TCU sure didn’t miss him as Ellis is a force in the Big 12 Tournament, averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in the annual championship. Without freshman forward Cliff Alexander, as well, the Jayhawk big men would again be under the command of juniors Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson along with sophomore Landen Lucas.
With Ellis out at KU’s regular-season finale at Oklahoma, Lucas made his first Big 12 start and seized the opportunity with his first career double-double. His next time out, Lucas led the team with seven rebounds, scored 13 points and tied his career-high with three blocks against TCU. Traylor and Mickelson each made an impact on the defensive end, with a combined four blocks, but the majority of the scoring came from a position-shifting Oubre. As foul trouble haunted KU’s big men, Oubre moved to the four spot and did his damage from there. For the afternoon, he went 5-for-10 from the floor and set a new Big 12 Championship freshman record with his 15-of-19 free throws.
TCU senior guard Trey Zeigler gave the Jayhawks fits in each of his regular-season meetings and tourney time didn’t change that. He led the Horned Frogs with 20 points. On the flip side, TCU’s leading scorer senior Kyan Anderson was held to a mere three points before fouling out.
Mickelson got it going early, following his first dunk with his first block to tie the low-scoring start. But when Mickelson was called for his second foul, he was relegated to the bench to cause a unique lineup shift. Traylor moved to the five spot, while Oubre stepped in at the four. They made it work. Free throws from Oubre and a put-back layup from Traylor handed the Jayhawks a slight edge, but they still searched for rhythm.
When Lucas returned, Kansas’ lineup reclaimed a little size, to which he obliged with back-to-back layups. Together, Traylor and Lucas tallied 12 points between them to create KU’s first three-point lead, 21-18. A breakaway layup for sophomore guard Brannen Greene pushed the lead to five, the largest by either team to that point, and TCU used its first timeout.
Seven-straight makes on KU’s end, capped with a solid jumper from freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, opened the lead a little further as halftime approached, 26-20. A leaping Frank Mason III saved the ball and tossed it back into play to Wayne Selden, Jr. Though Selden’s dish to Mykhailiuk resulted in a missed shot, Oubre was there to clean the offensive glass and laid it back in for a bucket – almost keeping KU’s made-streak alive. Oubre and Mason made up for it. Oubre drove the floor for a three-point play and Mason drained a long two, closing the half with a 33-26 lead.
TCU made it clear in each of its first two meetings against Kansas that blowouts were not part of the deal. The Horned Frogs remade the statement to start the second half, firing out to an 8-2 run to cut KU’s lead to a single point at the first media timeout, 35-34. A put-back slam by Zeigler served as a symbolic exclamation mark that the Horned Frogs weren’t going away.
And they didn’t. Another bucket from Ziegler and three-pointer from Kenrich Williams wiped out KU’s lead entirely, 47-47.
Oubre carried the load. When TCU knotted the score with 8:34 to play, Oubre kicked into gear. From that moment, Oubre scored 10-straight Jayhawk points. When Selden interrupted his streak, Kansas was holding a 57-53 lead.
Back-to-back alley-oops to Oubre and Lucas pulled attention away from the free throw line and turned the lead over to the Jayhawks for good. Mason dribbled out the 64-59 win.
Kansas will next play in the semifinals of the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, March 13, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Jayhawks will square off against Baylor, who defeated West Virginia on Thursday morning to advance. Kansas has won 13 conference postseason tournament titles, including nine in the Big 12.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (32/35), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (32/67), Fr. G Kelly Oubre, Jr. (23/23), Jr. F Jamari Traylor (18/19), So. F Landen Lucas (10/10)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads, 10-1
ATTENDANCE: Sold-out (18,972 capacity)
- Made Kansas 25-7 on the season, marking the 10th-straight season that the Jayhawks have tallied 25 wins, beginning in 2005-06.
- Improved KU to 10-7 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse (5-6 in true road games and 5-1 on neutral floors).
- Jumped the Jayhawks’ record in the Big 12 Championship to 18-1 in first games (1-0 in first round and 17-2 in quarterfinals).
- Advanced Kansas to the conference tourney semifinals for the 17th time in Big 12 history and 35th time overall.
- Bettered KU’s record in 67-25 in conference tournament play and 37-9 in the Big 12 Championship.
- Extended Kansas’ success in Sprint Center to 26-5 all-time and 2-0 this season.
- Moved Self to 350-76 while at Kansas, 32-10 in conference tournament action (23-5 while at KU in the Big 12 Championship) and 557-181 overall.
- Made KU 2,151-829 all-time.
- Head coach Bill Self recorded his 350th win at Kansas on Thursday, making him the fastest coach in KU history to eclipse the 350 mark – by a close call. Former head coach Roy Williams recorded his 350th win as a Jayhawk in 430 games (vs. Oklahoma State, 1/15/02). Self won 350 in 426 contests.
- Kansas did not hit a three-pointer for the second time in the last three games, marking the first time such an occurrence has happened since the record began being tracked in the 1988-89 season.
- For the first time this season, Kansas finally won the battle of the boards against TCU this season. Of the five times that KU has been outdone on the glass in 2014-15, the Horned Frogs were responsible for two of them and are also the only team to grab 50 rebounds against the Jayhawks this season (1/28). On Saturday, however, Kansas claimed a 34-28 rebound advantage.
- KU is now 18-2 when outrebounding the opponent in 2014-15.
- The Jayhawks created separation in the first half thanks to seven-straight made field goals, which included 12-consecutive combined points from the Jamari Traylor-Landen Lucas duo.
- After starting the game 4-of-14 from the floor, Kansas went to halftime on a 10-of-12 shooting spree. While Traylor and Lucas got hot for their 12-point stretch, the 10-of-12 finish saw six different Jayhawks tally a bucket.
- The Jayhawks are now 18-1 when leading at halftime in 2014-15.
- Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., finished his first postseason game with a career-high 25 points. That marked the 15th time the New Orleans native chalked up double-digit points and the fifth game in a row. Seventeen of Oubre’s points came in the second half.
- Oubre’s 15-of-19 free throws were a career-high and set a new Jayhawk record for free throws made and attempted in a Big 12 Championship game. They also marked the most made and attempted by a Jayhawk since Andrew Wiggins also went 15-of-19 (vs. West Virginia, 3/8/14).
- His 15 free throws also broke the Big 12 Championship record for most made by a freshman, previously held by a fairly dominant former Big 12 rookie (11, Kevin Durant, Texas vs. Baylor, 3/9/07).
- From the 8:34 to 3:48 mark, Oubre scored 10-straight points to keep the Jayhawks in front.
- Oubre’s 25 points became the eighth time this season a Kansas player has scored 20 or more points in a single contest.
- Sophomore F Landen Lucas followed his first career double-double at Oklahoma (3/7) with a solid day at the office on Thursday. He tied his career-high with three blocks, led KU with seven rebounds and was the only other Jayhawk in double-figures with 13 points.
- Lucas went 6-of-7 from the floor, a career-best efficiency performance.
- Junior F Jamari Traylor tied his career-high with three blocks. He passed former KU big man Julian Wright (91) for 20th on KU’s career blocks list with 92.
- Freshman G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk posted two points and two assists. He also started the second half.
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