Jayhawks fend off Frogs, 71-64
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Devonte’ Graham’s seventh 20-point outing of the season paired with Udoka Azubuike’s fifth double-double lifted the No. 10/10 Kansas Jayhawks past the TCU Horned Frogs, 71-64, Tuesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse. Graham led all scorers with 24 points as KU weathered a two-point halftime deficit to claim their seventh-straight win over the Horned Frogs in Lawrence.
The win moved KU to 19-5 on the year and to 8-3 in league play. TCU fell to 16-8 in 2017-18 and slid to 4-7 in the Big 12.
Trailing 52-50 with just over 12 minutes to play, the Jayhawks sprinted to the finish using some stingy defense and timely free throw shooting to fly past TCU. Junior Lagerald Vick scored eight of his 10 points and KU forced four Horned Frog turnovers in that span to flip the script. The Jayhawks also held TCU to 5-of-17 from the field in that span, and cooled the once-hot Horned Frog shooters, holding the visitors to 0-of-5 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, KU also took control on the other end of the floor. Graham’s fifth 3-pointer of the night was followed shortly after by a thunderous dunk by Azubuike at the 5:35 mark which gave the Jayhawks a six-point lead, 62-56, and some cushion for the home stretch.
Despite that Azubuike dunk being the Jayhawks’ final field goal of the night, KU managed to hold off the visitors with some clutch shooting from the charity stripe. The Jayhawks got to the line for 12 free throw attempts in the final 3:21, where they converted on nine of those tries. Kansas also held the Horned Frogs to just four points in that final stretch, helping it hold on for the victory, 71-64.
The Horned Frogs used the long ball to keep pace with the Jayhawks early. TCU sunk five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the contest, taking a 17-12 early lead on Alex Robinson’s trey at the 13:41 mark. But a one-man run from Graham shortly followed to hand the Jayhawks their first multiple-possession lead of the night. The senior point guard hit back-to-back threes, followed by a fall-away jumper and Kansas found itself with a 26-21 advantage with 8:30 left in the first half.
TCU’s Kouat Noi helped the Frogs recover though, nailing his career-high tying fourth three of the half during a 14-2 run that gave the Horned Frogs their largest lead of the game at seven points, 35-28.
The Jayhawks ended the half strong though with more heroics from Graham. He accounted for four points of a 6-1 KU spurt to end the half and pull KU within two at the intermission, 36-34.
After being sidelined for much of the opening stanza in foul trouble, Azubuike came out of the locker room on a mission to start the second half. The 7-foot center dunked down six points in the first five minutes and got the score level at 42-42. Graham followed less than a minute later with his fourth 3-pointer of the night and KU found itself with a 45-42 lead with just under 15 minutes remaining.
The Horned Frogs refused to waiver though, as Desmond Bane answered with a pair of treys to quickly snatch back the lead for the visitors.
Vick then took the reins of the Jayhawk offense. He scored eight of his 10 points in a five-minute stretch that saw KU construct a 10-2 run and claim its largest lead of the evening. From there, KU’s defense and free throw shooting combined were enough to salt away the victory.
Graham led the Jayhawks in scoring for the seventh time this season, hitting five of his nine tries from 3-point range. Azubuike followed up his 20-point outing two days prior with 16 against the Frogs, which included a 6-of-10 clip from the field to go along with 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Marcus Garrett and Vick tallied 10 points apiece, with Garrett going a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and hitting both of his 3-point tries.
Kansas hits the road for two games beginning at Baylor, Saturday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. (CST) on CBS. Kansas is 30-4 all-time against Baylor, including a 70-67 win on Jan. 20, 2018, in Lawrence. Kansas has won the last 11 meetings with Baylor, including the last seven at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. KU will conclude the road swing at Iowa State on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. (CST). That game will be televised on ESPN2.
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