For No. 3 Kansas, rematch against TCU came in the form of a bright orange Nike basketball and a 63-58 road win

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Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) works to get around TCU guard Mike Miles Jr. (1) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Fort Worth, TX. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Fort Worth, Texas — Forget the Big 12 race or the joy of winning a grinder on the road; Kansas point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. had only one thing on his mind when the final horn sounded in No. 24 Kansas’ 63-58 road win at No. 24 TCU on Monday night.

Get the ball.

So as soon as TCU’s Mike Miles Jr. threw the ball the full length of the floor with little joy and no hope of winning, Harris chased it.

Less than an hour later, the ball was still with the Jayhawks, with a few messages scribbled on it, including “Road Kill” and “Funky Town,” the unofficial name of TCU’s student section.

“We had to get this one back,” Harris said of the orange Nike basketball after the win. “When we lost (to them) the first game, we saw that they posted (our game ball) on social media, so we really wanted that win, we wanted the ball too. So as soon as the buzzer went off, I had to go get it.

Added KU freshman Gradey Dick, who scored 19 points in Monday’s win and walked out of the gym wearing one of the white t-shirts TCU donated for Monday’s game: ” They were mean with it, so we had to be mean, too.”

That word — small, with no R as the second letter — was the perfect word to use in the aftermath of Monday’s win, Kansas’ fifth straight in the Big 12 game.

Because there was certainly nothing pretty about the way the Jayhawks won. But they liked everything about the result.


PHOTO GALLERY: Kansas Basketball at TCU

Box Score: Kansas 63, TCU 58

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“The Lawrence one (an 83-60 TCU win) we played terribly and they played really well and we didn’t do anything to make them not play well,” KU coach Bill Self said. after the victory. “Today at least we kept and bounced back for 40 minutes for the most part.”

The Jayhawks (23-5 overall, 11-4 Big 12) held TCU to 30 percent shooting on the night and outshot the Horned Frogs 48-42. They also turned it over just 11 times and somehow outclassed TCU’s biggest and greatest team 42-30 in points in the paint.

The rebound, which Dick said was “huge” in the win, played a big part in KU’s inside advantage. Thirteen of KU’s rebounds came on the offensive glass, which led to 10 second-chance points. On a night where it takes all you have to hit 60, scoring 17% of those who don’t put in the effort plays on your own misses is huge.

“(It was pretty much) trying to find a way to win,” KU junior Jalen Wilson said after finishing with seven points and 13 rebounds. “On the road, it will never always be pretty; you are going to have to win some ugly games. Today was one of those games, but at the end of the day, we’re going to find a way to win (and) do what it takes to win.

No stretch illustrated this better than the final five minutes, when KU scored just three free throws in the final 4:45 while taking the win.

The biggest save came in a draw of TCU forward Damion Baugh by McCullar, who Self said was both “great” and “fantastic” in six minutes during his press conference. post game.

“In the Big 12 you have to quit to win big games,” said McCullar, who finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.

This particular play, which was actually part blocking, part stealing, part tying, came with about 30 seconds left and Kansas was leading by three. The possession arrow favored the Jayhawks at the time, and after running about seven seconds, Wilson headed to the free throw line to try to set up KU by two possessions.

Wilson, who shot just 3 of 11 on the night, missed the first charity shot, giving TCU one last chance to tie. But Baugh’s deep 3-point try on Dick missed the rim and McCullar grabbed the rebound with 1.5 seconds left. He was quickly fouled and this time KU got the free throws they needed to freeze the game.

Make no mistake about it; Monday’s win was a big game. And ball or no ball, the result put Kansas half a game ahead of Texas in the Big 12 race with three games to play. Texas will host Iowa State on Tuesday and Baylor, now a game and a half behind KU, will play Kansas State.

Minutes before the clincher, on consecutive possessions with less than six minutes left, the Jayhawks got a few extra saves that helped them build their cushion.

The first came when Wilson bounced off a TCU miss with his shoulder caught in the wing of a TCU player. And the second came when the Jayhawks forced an errant pass from the Frogs through the paint to regain possession.

Harris scored on a drive to the edge after one of the saves and Wilson recorded one tough offensive rebound and one comeback after another to put the Jayhawks up 60-53 with 4:45 left.

Much of that came immediately after TCU quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Max Duggan made a late entrance in a tuxedo after accepting the Davey O’Brien Award on campus earlier that night.

Duggan and his date were greeted by a wild ovation from TCU fans as he took his place at half court. Unlike Duggan’s success on the gridiron, however, his presence on the court Monday didn’t lead the Horned Frogs (18-10, 7-8) to victory.

Asked about the environment on Monday night, Self referenced the talented QB.

“I thought it was awesome,” Self said of the atmosphere. “It’s the best since I’ve been here. And if Max Duggan comes every five minutes, that would be even better. I’m just glad he didn’t come sooner.

While KU’s obsession with snatching the ball out of play certainly suggested otherwise, the Jayhawks insisted their main focus on Monday was simply to keep playing with energy and effort, believing that would give them the best chance of winning. obtain a favorable result.

That’s not to say revenge didn’t play some part in Monday’s game. But the Jayhawks’ ability to focus on the right things while chasing that revenge speaks volumes about how this team has grown over the past month.

“They came into our house and pretty much beat us up,” McCullar said. “We went out flat that day and we’ve been preaching ever since trying to come out with more energy and just executing and playing together and playing the right way and today we did and got a big road dub that we needed.”

Added Self when asked if he felt his players really wanted TCU back: “They did. But I don’t look at it that way. I see it like, they beat our asses and we just wanted to come and play better this time. Since we’ve been in Kansas, I think two teams have swept us in 20 years and this could easily have been the third. Things like that might not mean anything to (the players), but I know it certainly motivates our staff, which probably trickles down to them.

As for the added motivation of the play ball, Harris was asked on his way out of the gate if getting the win or the ball felt better. His answer was the perfect summary of how this team is starting to think.

“Both,” Harris said.


Photo Gallery: Kansas Basketball at TCU


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Written by Matt Tait

Originally from Colorado, Matt moved to Lawrence in 1988 and has been in town ever since. He graduated from Lawrence High in 1996 and the University of Kansas in 2000 with a degree in journalism. After covering KU sports for the University Daily Kansan and, Matt joined the World Company (and later Ogden Publications) in 2001 and has held several positions with the newspaper and over the past 20 years. . He became editor of the Journal-World Sports in 2018. Throughout his career, Matt has won multiple local and national awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Kansas Press Association. In 2021, he was named Kansas Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Matt lives in Lawrence with his wife, Allison, and two daughters, Kate and Molly. When he’s not covering KU sports, he enjoys spending his time playing basketball and golf, listening to and writing music, and traveling the world with friends and family.

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