No. 7 Kansas holds off No. 25 TCU, 77-68
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A season-high 31 points from redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson and a spark off the bench from freshman Ochai Agbaji in his collegiate debut proved too much for TCU as the No. 7/9 Jayhawks outdueled the No. 25/rv Horned Frogs, 77-68, Wednesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse. Lawson turned his NCAA-leading 11th double-double as KU snapped TCU’s nine-game winning streak.
The win moved Kansas to 13-2 on the year and 2-1 in Big 12 play, while TCU suffered its second loss of 2018-19, now at 12-2 and 1-1 in the league.
It was a back-and-forth affair for much of the opening half as neither squad managed to open up a lead of more than four points until the final minutes before the break. With the Horned Frogs keeping pace early, head coach Bill Self turned to the freshman Agbaji, who was making his collegiate debut, to give his team a lift just over four minutes into the game.
It didn’t take Agbaji long to score his first collegiate points, throwing down an alley-oop dunk from Devon Dotson to ignite the Allen Fieldhouse crowd and give the Jayhawks a 10-9 lead at the 15:41 mark.
The Horned Frogs refused to go away, however, keeping the KU lead within three points for much of the opening frame. But a Jayhawk surge over the final three minutes of the half proved to give KU some breathing room. Lagerald Vick’s first 3-pointer of the night at the 2:58 mark sparked a 9-2 Jayhawk run to close half. Lawson scored the final six points to close out the run and hand Kansas a 40-31 lead as it headed to the locker room.
It only took six minutes after the restart for the Horned Frogs to claw themselves back into the game. Some hot shooting from R.J. Nembhard from both the free throw stripe and beyond the 3-point arc got the visitors back within striking distance. Kouat Noi’s lay-up at the 12:38 mark got the Horned Frogs to within two points, 52-50.
Kansas responded and, once again, built its lead back to nine points with help from a 12-3 run over the next four minutes. Lawson scored nine-straight points during that spurt, including his second three-pointer of the night, to get the Jayhawks seemingly back in control at 64-53 with just over eight minutes to play.
But once again, the pesky Frogs refused to go away. Back-to-back TCU three pointers pulled the Horned Frogs to within three points, 68-65, with under four minutes to play. A Self timeout following Alex Robinson’s 3-pointer did the trick though, halting the TCU momentum and getting his team organized for a strong closing stretch.
The Jayhawks held the Horned Frogs scoreless over the final 1:41 of regulation. Meanwhile, some clutch free throw shooting and a key offensive rebound and putback from Marcus Garrett with 1:10 remaining helped Kansas put TCU away once and for all to close out the 77-68 victory.
Lawson tallied his third-career 30-point game and his second in his last five outings. His 14 rebounds, 10 of which came in the second half, gave him the 11th double-double of the season, a figure that brings him into a tie for the most in the NCAA. Vick was the only other Jayhawk in double figures, posting 12 points on a 5-of-10 clip from the field. Garrett (8), K.J. Lawson (7) and Agbaji (7) rounded out the Jayhawks’ top scorers, combining for 22 points.
The KU defense took center stage Wednesday night by forcing 20 TCU turnovers, the most the Horned Frogs have committed this season. On the other end, Kansas managed to rebound from its season-high 24-turnover night against Iowa State four days prior, only giving the ball away 12 times and limiting TCU to 13 points off those 12 turnovers.
QUOTES – Full Quotes
Head coach Bill Self
On getting back into the win column after loss to Iowa State:
“It was a great game. It was well played … We rebounded the ball at least average-to-above average. I thought our defense was pretty good. They made some shots late, which usually happens when you’re behind and driving and playing with a freer mind. It was encouraging to see us execute the way we did the last three minutes. Certainly, they’re a good team, top-25 team, and we got it done … Dedric (Lawson) was great, the best player in the game. And then Ochai (Agbaji), it was unbelievable how that kid responded and kept balls alive and just gave us some energy.”
On forcing 20 turnovers by TCU:
“I thought we really pressured them hard the first half and they had some surprise, uncharacteristic turnovers. Although we scored some in transition, we had numerous times where Devon had a one-against-two and there’s no chance. We go and turn it over in the second half when Charlie (Moore) has a one-against-two and there’s no chance. Usually, those types of plays lead to points on the other end, so we have to tighten that up. We were better than we have been and we certainly will have to get better in that area.”
Freshman guard Ochai Agbaji
On how he thought he played tonight:
“I thought I did well. It was really intense. It was just fun to play in.”
On what he thought allowed him to play so well:
“It was really my teammates and coaches, they put me in the right position(s). Just having pressure on me and wanting me to make the right play(s) and play to my athletic ability. It was good to have that (support).”
NOTABLES – Full Notes
- The win gave Kansas a 17-3 all-time series record against TCU, including an 8-0 record in Lawrence.
- The victory also made the Jayhawks 87-11 under Bill Self in games coming off a loss.
- Kansas is now 5-1 against top-25 foes this season and 95-46 against ranked opponents under Bill Self
- The Jayhawks forced 20 TCU turnovers, the figure was a season high for both TCU and a Kansas opponent this season.
- Kansas recorded a season low with 34 rebounds on the night.
- TCU’s 46.3 shooting percentage marked the third time this season a KU opponent has shot better than Kansas, KU has now won two out of those three games.
- Kansas finished the game on a 6-0 run spanning the final 1:41 of regulation.
- After committing 24 turnovers against Iowa State, the Jayhawks cut that number in half against TCU. Kansas committed 12 turnovers in the win while limiting TCU to just 13 points off turnovers.
- The Horned Frogs entered the game with a league leading assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7. However the Jayhawks pressured TCU into 20 turnovers and limited them to only 12 assists. It marked only the second time this season TCU had more turnovers than assists (Lipscomb 15:16)
- Dedric Lawson Recorded his 47th-career double-double, 11th as a Jayhawk with 31 points and 14 rebounds.
- Lawson’s 31-points marked a season high, and the third time he’s scored 30+ in a game including two as a Jayhawk. The 31 point night is the highest by a junior since Wayne Selden Jr. tallied 33 against Kentucky (1/30/16).
- Freshman guard Ochai Agbaji made his Kansas debut, checking in at the 15:51 mark of the first half.
- Agbaji didn’t take long to enter the scoring column, converting on an ally-oop dunk just 10 seconds after he checked in for his first points as a Jayhawk.
- Agbaji’s 25 minutes are the most by a non-starting Jayhawk in a KU debut since Devonte’ Graham registered 26-minutes against UC Santa Barbara on 11/14/14
The Jayhawks hit the road to take on the Baylor Bears on Saturday, Jan. 12 on ESPN. Tip-off from Ferrell Center is set for 3 p.m. Kansas is 30-5 all-time against Baylor, including a 12-3 advantage in Waco with all 15 meetings in the Ferrell Center. The Bears won the last meeting, 80-64, on Feb. 10, 2018, in Waco, ending a Kansas 11-game series winning streak.
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