Kansas Jayhawks hold off TCU Horned Frogs 63-58 for 5th straight win

The Kansas Jayhawks gutted out their fifth win in a row Monday night, and exacted some revenge in the process, fending off the TCU Horned Frogs 63-58.

KU led for the vast majority of the game, never trailing by more than four points. A layup by freshman guard Gradey Dick pushed the Jayhawks ahead with 1:44 to play in the first half, and the Horned Frogs never led past that point and only tied the score once more.

That was a complete role reversal from the first meeting of the year between KU and TCU, a historically lopsided loss for the Jayhawks and a game the Horned Frogs led for nearly 39 minutes. That game was also far higher scoring than the second meeting, with Monday’s 121 points coming well short of the 143 from the first matchup.

Dick was the biggest story of the game offensively for Kansas, scoring a game-high 19 points, though it took him 18 shots to get there. It was KU’s defense that stole the show, though, led by a stifling effort from senior guard Kevin McCullar and junior guard Dajuan Harris.

Kansas coach Bill Self praised that pair heavily following Saturday’s win over the Baylor Bears for how they defended that team’s star-studded guard trio, and McCullar and Harris worked their magic against a pair of TCU standouts too, limiting Mike Miles Jr. and Damion Baugh to a combined 8-of-30 from the field.

“That’s not very good offensive execution,” Self said. “And it was just like no matter what we did offensively, score or not score, we just never let them get the lead, and we really guarded there late.”

McCullar, specifically, came up with one of the most important plays of the game. With 30 seconds left and the Jayhawks up by three, Baugh accelerated on a left-handed downhill drive toward KU sophomore forward K.J. Adams. McCullar trailed the play, teamed up with Adams for an initial block, then McCullar tied the ball up to squelch one of TCU’s last best chances to win.

McCullar led all players Monday night with 39 minutes played, and he scored 15 points to join Dick as the only Jayhawks to score in double figures. They picked up junior forward Jalen Wilson on a rare off night for KU’s best player. The likely first-team All-American was held to just six points on 3-of-11 shooting, although he did grab a game-high 13 rebounds in the win.

“We didn’t do a lot of stuff, but God, we just competed,” Self said. “And Kevin McCullar was fantastic.”

With the win, Kansas, who is up to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 this week, stopped TCU from becoming just the third team in the Self era to beat KU twice in the same regular season. Only the Texas Longhorns in 2021 and Oklahoma State Cowboys in 2018 have accomplished that feat.

Monday’s win is also another data point favoring KU in its quest for a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, and possibly the No. 1 overall seed. The Jayhawks now have 14 Quad 1 wins this season, more than any other program, and they’re now a half game up on the rest of the field in the Big 12 standings. Texas, the team immediately behind Kansas, plays Tuesday night against the Iowa State Cyclones.

Next up for KU is a return home to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday to face the West Virginia Mountaineers, who picked up a blowout win over Oklahoma State on Monday night. That game will start at 3:00 p.m.

For more reaction to the Kansas Jayhawks’ 63-58 win over the TCU Horned Frogs, check out Mic’d Up with Jake and Fulton from noon-3:00 p.m., and 580 Sports Talk with Brendan and Dan from 3-5:00 p.m. Tuesday on 580 WIBW.