FORT WORTH, Texas – The No. 10 Kansas Jayhawks saw a 10-point second-half lead disappear, but were able to fend off the No. 16/15 TCU Horned Frogs with the help of some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch Saturday night inside Schollmaier Arena. Senior guard Devonte’ Graham led all scorers with 28 points which included eight-straight free throws in the final two minutes to help KU secure the victory, 88-84.
The win moved the Jayhawks to 12-3 on the season and 2-1 in Big 12 play, while the Horned Frogs suffered just their second loss of the season, moving to 13-2 and 1-2 in league action.
With the score tied at 77-77 with more than three minutes remaining in regulation, KU was able to ice the game away at both the charity stripe and the defensive end of the floor to upend a TCU team that was ranked among the top-10 in the nation just a week ago.
Freshman Marcus Garrett broke the tie when he shot in two of his four points with a pair of free throws at the 3:01 mark. Graham then put the team on his back for the final sprint to the finish. After stealing the ball away from TCU’s Desmond Bain with two minutes in regulation, the senior was fouled at the other end and kicked off a stretch of eight-consecutive free throws to help KU extend the lead to five points with 11 seconds left.
After Kouat Noi cut the Horned Frog deficit to three points on a tip-in with 4 seconds remaining, Malik Newman stepped to the line and iced the game, hitting one of two and securing the 88-84 KU win.
The Jayhawks jumped all over on the Frogs in the early minutes. Udoka Azubuike made his presence felt down low with six quick points, but then the long-range prowess of Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham took over. The two seniors connected on each of their first four 3-point tries to get the early KU lead out to double digits, 18-8, just over five minutes into the game.
TCU sophomore Jaylen Fisher responded with a trio of threes of his own to keep his team within reach, but Azubuike continued to dominate the paint, responding with four-straight points. Soon after, Lagerald Vick sunk the Jayhawks’ fifth trey of the half at the 11:08 mark to get the Kansas out to a 10-points lead, 29-19. The Vick trey ended a stretch that saw KU hit 10 of its first 12 shots from the field.
Graham then took over the scoring load with six of his 13-first half points on three-consecutive possessions, and joined his KU teammates in holding the Horned Frogs to just one field goal over a six-minute stretch. Graham’s heroics and the stingy KU defense saw the Jayhawks extend the lead to 14 points, 38-24, when Sam Cunliffe logged his first two points of the game with just over five minutes remaining before the intermission.
The Horned Frogs used a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws down the closing minutes of the opening half to chisel away at the KU lead. Vladimir Brodziansky hit a pair of charities with seven seconds remaining to send the squads to the locker rooms with KU ahead 42-34.
Kansas got the second half out to a fast start, using an Azubuike dunk, a Graham free throw and a Lagerald Vick transition 3-pointer to get its lead back to double figures less than two minutes after the restart. But the Horned Frogs were quick to strike back after Azubuike forced to back to the bench after the 7-0 foot center picked up his third foul at the 16:35 mark. An 11-2 TCU run ensued and the home team was able to claw within a point of the Jayhawks with more than 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
The KU seniors had an answer though. Mykhailiuk hit a short jumper from the baseline before Devonte’ Graham nailed his second 3-pointer of the night to get their team’s lead to 55-49 before the under-12 minute media timeout.
The Jayhawk offense continued to hum over the next five minutes, with Mykhailiuk and Graham both shooting in a 3-pointer a piece, but more clutch free throw shooting from the Horned Frogs kept them within range. Brodziansky and Kenrich Williams combined for 10-straight charities before Williams added a three and a jumper to get TCU within a point once again, 70-69, at the 6:17 mark.
Just over 90 seconds later the home side took its first lead of the night on Brodzianasky’s 12-footer, sending the 6,894 inside Schollmaier Arena into a frenzy as the Horned Frogs saw their first lead since the third minute of the game.
But the lead was short-lived when Mykhailiuk hit his fifth 3-pointer and the Jayhawks’ final field goal of the game with 4:38 left to play to make the score 77-75. KU went on to convert on 13 of its last 15 free throws to secure its second road win inside the state of Texas in eight days.
Graham ended the game with 28 points, 11 of which came in the final nine minutes of the game. Mykhailiuk added 20 points with his 5-of-7 clip from beyond the arc. Azubuike rounded out the Jayhawks to score in double figures with his 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 night from the field in just 13 minutes of floor time.
Mitch Lightfoot made up for Azubuike’s absence with nine points and a season-high seven rebounds in 26 minutes. The sophomore out of Gilbert, Arizona also tallied a career-high six blocks.