If there was a turning point in the Kansas Jayhawks season, it may have come on a Wednesday night in Fort Worth. On that night, February 6th to be exact, Kansas suffered a humiliating loss at the hands of TCU. It’d be the second of three in a row, but from that point, the Jayhawks grew closer.
Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas (23-4, 11-3) exacted some revenged on the Horned Frogs, smashing them in just a half, cruising to a 74-48 victory that sets up a critical game Monday night at Iowa State.
The win was as overwhelming as it was impressive. The Jayhawks had the game in hand by halftime, leading 38-9.
That’s right. 38-9. TCU (10-17, 1-13) was held to the lowest points in a half in a Big 12 game in the last five years and was the lowest output by a Kansas opponent since Cornell accomplished that feat in 1996.
The first half featured Kansas moving the ball and playing suffocating defense that help decide the game before Ben McLemore made a statement with a powerful dunk as the half drew to a close.
“We played well in the first half,” head coach Bill Self said. “They missed shots, but we guarded them and the ball moved great for us. We executed and were efficient.”
TCU labored in every way. The Horned Frogs starters failed to score a single point, shooting 17% on four of 23 from the field.
The effort in the first half set the tone, as Kansas got everyone involved, led Jeff Withey, who played a physical game en route to 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Withey was one of four Jayhawks in double figures, including McLemore (14 points, Travis Releford (12 points) and freshman Perry Ellis (12 points, four rebounds).
The game was played on a day where Kansas celebrated its basketball heritage and tradition by welcoming back former players and coaches as part of a weekend commemorating 115 years of Kansas basketball, culminating with a halftime ceremony and banquet on Saturday night.
“It’s great to get these guys back,” Self said. “About 200 guys came back, and 200 players coming back is a great number.”
With the win and celebration behind them, attention will turn to a huge matchup at Iowa State, Monday night at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, a building where Kansas fell a year ago.
The Cyclones will be hoping to dent Kansas’ conference title chase and exact some revenge of their own after a Ben McLemore miraculous three saved the Jayhawks from certain defeat in January, before they eventually prevailed in overtime.
“We were fortunate we got a win the first time,” Self said. “I really think that we have a great opportunity going there to beat a dangerous team. We are going to have to play our best game away from home.”