Kansas should be plenty hungry entering Saturday's showdown against TCU at 3 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. After all, the Horned Frogs gave KU one of the worst losses in school history on Feb. 6, a 62-55 victory in Fort Worth that TCU controlled the whole game.
The Jayhawks should also be amped playing in front of about 200 former KU players, coaches and managers in the 115th year celebration of Kansas basketball. The lettermen will be honored at halftime. Included at halftime will be a celebration of the 1988 national championship team, which marks its 25-year anniversary.
KU, in honor of those ‘88 champs, will wear retro warm-ups and uniforms during the game.
Kansas (22-4, 10-3 Big 12) comes into the contest on a three-game winning streak and buoyed by a thrilling 68-67 double overtime win at Oklahoma State on Wednesday. The Jayhawks, who are tied with K-State atop the Big 12 standings, face a struggling TCU team (10-16, 1-12), which has lost four straight since the KU win and will be looking for its first road victory in Big 12 play. The Horned Frogs' latest loss was a 68-59 setback to Texas at home on Tuesday.
Sophomore guard Kyan Anderson leads TCU in scoring at 11.2 points per game, while also the team leader with 38 three-pointers, 89 assists and 39 steals. Senior forward Garlon Green is next in scoring (10.2 ppg), followed by senior forward Adrian McKinney (8.0 ppg, team-high 6.4 rpg).
TCU is only scoring 54.2 points per game while allowing 60.6 (third in Big 12 in scoring defense). The Horned Frogs shoot just 40.3 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from beyond the arc, while having a -1.0 rebounding margin.
KU hopes for a much better performance Saturday after playing miserably against the Horned Frogs last time. The Jayhawks shot just 3-of-22 from the field the first half and 29.5 percent for the game, while TCU outscored KU 17 to 7 on points off turnovers. Green led all scorers with 20 points while senior forward Connell Crossland had a game-high 15 rebounds.
"The four games we lost this season, there's only been one team that handled us from start to finish and that was TCU," KU coach Bill Self said. "Michigan State we got a four-point lead late, Oklahoma State we got a four-point lead late, Oklahoma we were down one with a minute-and-a-half left. TCU was the only game we didn't have a chance to win. They probably played us as well as anybody's played us all year. Granted, we didn't play well, but they had a lot to do with that, too."
Despite TCU's poor record, KU looks to be completely focused after losing to them in Fort Worth.
"Anybody can beat you on any given night," senior center Jeff Withey said. "You just have to come ready to play. We know that now. You don't want to slip up at all, that's going to prepare us also in March when we play in the tournament. You have to be ready every night; anybody can be beat."
Self said the Horned Frogs definitely pose some concerns.
"I think the way that they played us the first time was absolutely perfect," Self said. "They didn't give angles. They cut off transition. They did a lot of things that were very good and that have given us some problems. I watched the tape and they whipped us. ... They definitely have our respect."
But this is a different KU team which showed up on Feb. 6. The Jayhawks are playing free and fun with great energy. Kansas showed its moxie against the Cowboys on Wednesday by gutting out a double overtime victory through 16 ties and 23 lead changes during the game. Kansas held OSU to just 32.8 percent shooting and 19.0 percent from beyond the arc, while dominating the boards, 50-41.
KU, meanwhile, shot just 41 percent and made only 1-of 11-threes.
"How poorly we shot, I thought that was remarkable to go down there and win," Self said. "Basically, it could have gone either way; it was a last-possession game. Our defense and rebounding certainly kept us in the game."
KU's Naadir Tharpe hit the game-winner with a jump hook in the lane with 18 seconds left in double OT.
"It was as big a play as anybody has made this year for us," Self said.
The Jayhawks shouldn't need any last-second heroics on Saturday versus TCU. KU wins, 82-64.