The final score wasn’t quite what some people expected, but the Jayhawks beat the TCU Horned Frogs 70-63 on Saturday afternoon. However, the story of the game wasn’t TCU keeping it close. It was that the two talented Jayhawk freshmen had the best performances in their young careers.
TCU opened the game by making five of its first six threes, which kept the Allen Fieldhouse crowd quiet. Halfway through the first half, the Horned Frogs had a 19-15 lead after capping a 10-0 run. Bill Self put Carlton Bragg into the game, and everything changed instantly.
KU scored the next 11 points to jump ahead, and it would never trail again. In all, the Jayhawks ended the first half on a 22-9 run, which was keyed by Bragg having eight points on 3/4 shooting.
The Jayhawks’ other blue-chip freshman, Cheick Diallo, also played well in the last few minutes before halftime. He was the first big man off of Self’s bench in the second half, and to the surprise of everyone watching, he didn’t sit down for the rest of the game.
Kansas stretched the lead to 16 in the second half, and eventually won by seven, 70-63. The Horned Frogs ended the game on a 9-1 run.
Diallo dominated the game in such a way that Kansas hasn’t seen from a center since Joel Embiid two years ago. He blocked five shots, which is the most since Embiid blocked six on February 22, 2014. He also scored nine points to match a career-best nine rebounds. He played 21 minutes, easily the most in his young career.
To put that in perspective, Diallo had played just 18 total minutes in Kansas’ first four conference games.
Bragg contributed with a career-best 10 points in 16 minutes. Perry Ellis, Frank Mason, and Devonte’ Graham all matched Bragg with 10 points. Wayne Selden had 11.
The game as a whole was fun yet uneventful (other than the playing time for the young guys). Kansas took care of business and won its 33rd straight game in Allen Fieldhouse.
- Wayne Selden: 11 points (4/9 FG), four rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes.
- Frank Mason: 10 points (3/10 FG), six rebounds, and four assists in a team-high 36 minutes. He looked slow and tired in the first half, but he looked more like the Frank Mason of old after halftime.
- Cheick Diallo: nine points (4/7 FG), nine rebounds, and five blocks in 21 minutes. Bill Self said after the game that he had earned more playing time. He was seen several times coaching Diallo through his mistakes instead of promptly pulling him, as he’s done for the first two months of the season.
- Carlton Bragg: 10 points (4/6 FG), four rebounds in 16 minutes. A very solid all-around performance.
- Devonte’ Graham: 10 points (3/6 FG), all of which came in the first half, and a team-high six assists. He played 27 minutes.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: seven points (3/8 FG) in 13 minutes. Arguably his best game in the last several weeks.
- Jamari Traylor: no points and four rebounds in eight minutes. He hit his head on Cheick Diallo’s knee and left the game in the second half. Self said he didn’t suffer a concussion, but was going to see a specialist to make sure there was no fracture in his face.
- Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson: no points in just five minutes each. Diallo’s presence kept them both on the bench for the entire second half.
- Brannen Greene: a three-pointer in 10 minutes.
- Diallo not only played great rim defense, but he also had just one foul to five blocks. He also really likes the Mutombo finger wag.
- Diallo played almost as many minutes in the second half (15) as his career high before this game (18)
- Kansas shot 43% (26/60) from the floor, but just 25% (5/20) from three-point range. It’s good that the Jayhawks didn’t need a bunch of threes to beat TCU.
- Rebounds: Kansas 44, TCU 37. KU had a season-high 17 offensive rebounds.
- Just 10 turnovers for the Jayhawks after that disastrous performance at West Virginia.
- Up next: at Oklahoma State on Tuesday night in Stillwater.