No. 9 Kansas gets last laugh on TCU
FEB 23, 2013 4:13p ET
"Hey guys, look at the scoreboard," Self said, noting an 18-4 Jayhawk lead. "We've scored five more points in the first half than we did last time we played these guys."
"That was pretty funny," Kansas forward Kevin Young recalled later.
Hey, it was a laugh riot at Allen Fieldhouse, a regular chuckle hut. Unless, of course, you happened to be wearing purple.
"We got to try to win a game (before the Big 12 tourney)," TCU coach Trent Johnson said. "Because I don't want to see these guys three times (in a season), I can tell you that."
Boom! Look, if you're not going to win the game, at least try to win the press conference.
"They're a lot better than we are, in all aspects," Johnson continued. "And that's pretty much it."
As expected, the Jayhawks (23-4, 11-3 Big 12) dropped the hammer on the hapless Horned Frogs (10-17, 1-13), notching their fourth straight win and avenging a struck-by-lightning, what-the-expletive loss at TCU on back February 6.
In Fort Worth, Kansas inexplicably missed 17 of its first 18 shots and wound up with only 13 points at the half in a stunning 62-55 setback.
The tables completely turned Saturday, with the hosts holding the Frogs to one field goal over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the rematch and racing out to a 38-9 halftime lead. Over the first 20 minutes, the Jayhawks' starters outscored their counterparts 34-0.
"I think a lot of it was to let these guys know that it wasn't going to be the same game as last time," said Young, who finished with six points, eight boards and two blocks.
If there was a message to be sent, it was received early, often, and right between the ears.
"They were upset?" Johnson deadpanned when asked if Kansas might have had a little payback on the brain. "I don't know for what."
"We started out kind of rough," said TCU forward Devonta Abram, whose 18 points and nine boards were among the Frogs' few bright spots. "We had open shots. We just didn't make them."
TCU's nine points at the break were the fewest in a half by a Big 12 team since the league began play in 1996-97. The Frogs were outscored 18-0 over the last 8:37 of the first half. If this were a fight, they'd have stopped it after two rounds.
"For them to go through what they went through, (losing) three games? Give me a break," Johnson said of the Jayhawks. "That's not bad. You guys are spoiled around here."
Well, maybe "finicky" is a better word. Like Augusta and Churchill Downs, legacy and history matter in Lawrence, where Final Fours are expected and national champions are canonized.
To wit: KU basketball honored its 115th anniversary on Saturday, with more than 200 former coaches, players and managers — including ex-Jayhawk and NBA great JoJo White — recognized at halftime.
Icons were led out and introduced by era, but representatives from the 1952, 1988 and 2008 NCAA title winners were presented separately, and at the last, feted as the kings and queens of The Phog homecoming court.
The current crop of KU players even wore '88-style throwback uniforms as a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the championship team led by Danny Manning.
"We knew we had to beat (TCU) by a lot to kind of prove ourselves to (those) old guys," center Jeff Withey said, grinning.
The rout was also career victory No. 499 for Self, who'll be shooting for 500 Monday evening in a trip to a very hostile — and probably very snowy — environment at Iowa State (19-8, 9-5). When a reporter asked Self if he'd prefer to notch the 500th at home or on the road, the veteran coach did a double-take and cocked his head in mock indignation.
"Man, that was a pretty bad question," Self replied, chuckling. "I don't even know how many I got, but I'd like to win the next game, for sure."
Again, yuks all around.
Monday's dance card figures to be rather less, shall we say, convivial. For one thing, the drive could be treacherous — another winter storm is expected to wallop the plains early in the week, less than 96 hours after the last icy dump over Big 12 country.
The shindig inside Hilton Coliseum won't be a picnic, either. "Hilton Magic " is alive, well, and taking no prisoners; the Cyclones are unbeaten in Ames, and pose the kind of guard-happy matchup that traditionally gives Kansas fits. Iowa State stretches the floor like Silly Putty, and all five guys in the lineup can step back and shoot the 3-ball.
Plus, the Cyclones are still fuming over blowing the first meeting with Kansas in Lawrence on January 9 after dominating the action for the first 39 minutes and change.
Mind you, that fuming business apparently cuts both ways.
"I still haven't forgotten about last year, when I was up there and they stormed the court on us (after an Iowa State win)," Young noted. "And that's the first time that's ever happened to me. I really didn't like that too much, so we're going to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again."
"Student section's really loud; it's really close to the floor … it's kind of like (Allen) Fieldhouse, but not as good," Withey said. Then he grinned. "No, it's going to be crazy there."
Best bring your lunch pail. And a parka.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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