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Kansas Avoids Upset Vs TCU

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NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake, the final score does not tell the whole story here.

TCU hadn't played in 16 days, but if you expected them to come out looking rusty, a 10-2 run to start the game proved otherwise. After speculation based on some Bill Self comments throughout the week that KU would change up their starting lineup, the Jayhawks rolled with their typical starting five, and as such also rolled with their typical frustrating start. KU would then score nine straight to get out in front, but it felt like a missed opportunity to jump out to a lead on an outmatched opponent coming off an unexpected, long layoff.

As the half wore on, it turned into a seesaw battle. Both teams shot poorly, and by the 8-minute mark were actually an identical 5-14 from the floor, but the Horned Frogs had three offensive boards to KU's zero. At the under-8, TCU held a surprising 13-11 advantage in the rock fight. The offensive struggles didn't go anywhere for either team, as four minutes later it was just 15-11, and beginning to feel eerily reminiscent of the inexplicable 2013 loss to TCU in which the Jayhawks were simply unable to score despite the inferior opponent.

The halftime score was a 19-18 lead for TCU. The game to that point had been about as abysmal as major college basketball can be. The teams were a combined 16-51 (31%) from the field, and both teams were just 2-7 (29%) from three. Why Kansas, a team that came into the game hitting 36% from deep, still refused to let it fly from behind the arc is a frustrating mystery. They were also outrebounded 21-11 with no offensive boards. Ochai Agbaji was 2-5 from outside and as a result, led the team with eight first half points.

As the second half got underway, both teams were clearly attempting a wild strategy of "scoring points." Dajuan Harris in particular helped give KU a spark, but TCU was more than matching the newfound offensive efforts early in the half. The Horned Frogs exploded for 8 straight and took a 33-23 lead which, given the way the game was going, kinda felt like an insurmountable deficit. Fortunately KU went on a run of their own. After some more ugly back-and-forth featuring way too many long two point jumpers, KU took a 40-38 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining.

At the under-8 it was knotted up at 43. Both teams had started hitting shots, and Kansas had cut into their rebounding deficit. Still, it was anyone's game and neither team was actually looking "good." A flurry of offensive rebounds for Kansas, despite missing free throws, finally gave the team some life. David McCormack (of all people) gave the team their biggest lead of the night to that point, 50-43, by hitting his first career three pointer as the shot clock expired with 4 minutes left.

Two more consecutive buckets pushed the lead to double digits, and TCU just couldn't battle all the way back. They cut the lead to five with 20 seconds left, but it was too late to try and foul their way back into it. The Jayhawks skated by with a 59-51 victory.

McCormack and Agbaji were the heroes in this one. Mac scored 15 while grabbing six boards and blocking a shot late. Agbaji led the team with 16 while dishing out four assists. Marcus Garrett wasn't his best but still scored eight with eight boards.

The Jayhawks avoided falling below .500 in Big 12 play and improve to 5-4. Their next game is Saturday, when they play at 11-3 Tennessee as part of the Big 12-SEC matchup, a game in which they will almost certainly be underdogs.