No. 3/3 Kansas withstands TCU for 26th straight conference-opening win

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Third-ranked Kansas basketball extended its conference-opening winning streak to 26 games, dating back to the 1991-92 season, with an 86-80 victory over TCU on Friday at Schollmaier Arena.

Five of the seven Jayhawks who saw the court finished with double-figure points, led by 22 points and seven assists from senior guard Frank Mason III and senior center Landen Lucas’ first double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

On a night that featured an even shooting and rebounding matchup – Kansas and TCU both finishing near 45 percent shooting from the field and dead even in boards at 49 apiece – the Jayhawks converted 15 Horned Frog turnovers into 20 points. KU committed just eight turnovers to earn its first Big 12 road win of the season.

A new-look TCU squad, led by first-year head coach Jamie Dixon, was paced by 28 points by junior forward Vladimir Brodziansky. The Jayhawks held TCU standout guards Alex Robinson (10.8 ppg) and Jaylen Fisher (10.5 ppg) to a combined 14 points.

The Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) have won 12-straight games after beginning the quest for an unprecedented 13th-straight Big 12 regular-season titles. TCU falls to 11-2 and 0-1 in conference play.

TCU’s Kenrich Williams made a 3-pointer to start the game and a pair of nifty post moves from Brodziansky helped lift the Horned Frogs to an early 7-0 lead. Meanwhile, Kansas missed its first seven shots during an early offensive slump.

Coming out of a Kansas 30-second timeout, Lucas made a backdoor layup off the assist from freshman Josh Jackson, for KU’s first points of the night at the 16:44 mark of the first half.

Another early bucket from TCU’s Brodziansky gave the Horned Frogs an 11-2 lead, then Mason responded by putting on a show as he followed through on a contested layup for his first points of the night. But TCU would maintain its lead with a trio of early 3-pointers, including Brandon Parrish’s third trey to give the home team a 10-point cushion, 17-7.

Kansas began to chip away at TCU’s lead as Mason answered to find sophomore guard Lagerald Vick open for a 3-pointer, cutting TCU’s lead to 19-12. Vick finished with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 34 minutes.

An alley-oop slam from Jackson coming out of an inbounds pass from Mason prompted a “Let’s go Jayhawks!” chant from a noticeably pro-KU crowd in Fort Worth. Moments later a jumper from junior guard Devonte’ Graham cut Kansas’ deficit to four, 22-18.

Jackson went on to struggle with foul trouble in his Big 12 Conference debut, registering his second foul at the 9:10 mark of the first half and reaching four fouls early in the second half. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Week scored four points with three assists in 12 minutes of action before fouling out late in the second half.

Kansas regained control of the game by clamping down on defense. With under 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Jayhawks forced a TCU turnover, which directly resulted in points on the scoreboard for KU as Vick converted a layup to tie the game at 26. TCU quickly called a 30-second timeout to regroup.  

One play after getting a 3-pointer blocked, junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – playing in front of his father Iurri Mykhailiuk, visiting from Ukriane – dusted off his shoulders and drained a 3-pointer from the corner to give KU its first lead of the game, 29-28. Soon thereafter, another 3-pointer from Mykhailiuk gave KU a 34-30 lead.

“Svi” finished with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting in a career-high 37 minutes played.

Kansas would lead by as many as six points in the tail end of the first half with the help of Mason snatching an outlet pass from Carlton Bragg and taking it coast-to-coast for a layup and a 36-30 lead. A shimmy shake drive by Mason at the top of the key was kicked out to Graham for a 3-pointer to give Kansas a 48-44 lead at halftime.  

Lucas grabbed 10 first-half rebounds – five offensive and five defensive – to become the first Jayhawk of the season with double-figure boards by halftime. It also cemented his second-straight double-figure rebound game. Mason and Vick led the Jayhawks with 12 points each in the first half. Kansas scored 13 points off seven TCU turnovers in the opening half.

Early in the second half, Jackson’s night of foul trouble was highlighted by being called for a loose-ball foul and reacting poorly to the official’s call, which resulted in a pair of technical fouls by Jackson and KU’s bench. After TCU’s free throws, Kansas held a one-point lead, 50-49, and Jackson sat on the bench with four fouls. Jackson later fouled out with 4:28 remaining in regulation.

Vick made his third 3-pointer of the night coming out of the first media timeout of the second half, giving KU a 57-51 lead. On the next KU offensive possession Mason was whistled for a carrying call at the 14:20 mark of the second half, which ended up being his one and only turnover of the contest.

Kansas was hitting its preverbal stride which has led to so many conference titles though the years as Graham found Lucas for a two-handed backdoor flush on an inbounds play, and Mason connected with Mykhailiuk from the top of the key for another alley-oop.

But TCU kept pace with timely 3-pointers to keep KU’s lead in single digits. The Jayhawks were able to keep TCU at arm’s length by posting a season-best 80 percent shooting from the free throw line before coming away with an 86-80 Big 12 road victory.

KU’s first Big 12 home game will be against Kansas State in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Tuesday, Jan. 3 inside Allen Fieldhouse (8 p.m., ESPN2).

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