The ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks continue their run towards the Big 12 Conference regular-season title, as they play host to the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday at the Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self's Jayhawks suffered a rare three-game losing streak to start February, but Kansas has righted the ship with three consecutive wins to remain tied with Kansas State atop the conference standings at 10-3. The Jayhawks were able to get revenge for one of those conference losses with a 68-67 double-overtime win at Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Trent Johnson's Horned Frogs have had a rough going of it in his first season at the helm. TCU is in the conference cellar with an ugly 1-12 league record and comes into this contest saddled with a four-game losing streak, including Tuesday's 68-59 loss to Texas. In fact, TCU has won just one game in the last 13 outings, with that being a shocking 62-55 upset of Kansas in Fort Worth on Feb. 6.
The Horned Frogs' win over the Jayhawks a couple of weeks ago was the first for the team, as Kansas won the first four meetings in this series.
A lack of scoring depth has been the primary reason that TCU has struggled both in and out of conference play this year. The team came into the week ranked 343rd out of 345 teams nationally in scoring and currently averages a mere 54.2 ppg. The team has struggled from all over the floor, shooting just .403 overall, .292 from behind the arc, and .584 from the free-throw line. Kyan Anderson and Garlon Green are the top scoring threats on the team, but at 11.2 and 10.2 ppg, respectively, neither is considered a prolific scorer. Aldrick McKinney is a distant third in the scoring column at 8.0 ppg, but is tops on the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg).
TCU finally put together a solid shooting performance, but its 45.7 percent from the floor still wasn't enough to earn the team a win over Texas, or eclipse the 60-point plateau. Green led the team in defeat with 15 points. Nate Butler Lind added 12 points, while Anderson finished with 10 points and eight assists.
Not being able to score in bunches should prove problematic, especially against a team as defensively sound as Kansas. The Jayhawks come in yielding just 60.3 ppg, while leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.354). Offensively, KU is averaging a modest 73.2 ppg, but the team does possess balance, with a strong inside/outside game. Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore has made an immediate impact with his perimeter game, shooting .500 overall and .431 from behind the arc, leading the team with 16.3 ppg. Senior center Jeff Withey is a formidable presence in the middle, averaging 13.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, while ranking among the nation's best in blocked shots (104). Guards Travis Releford (12.2 ppg) and Elijah Johnson (9.2 ppg) add scoring depth, while Johnson serves as the team's top distributor (4.4 apg).
In a game that featured 16 ties and 23 lead changes, KU finally outlasted Oklahoma State in Stillwater this week. Kansas held a huge edge inside, outscoring OSU 44-20 in the paint. Withey was once again dominant down low, recording his 10th double-double of the season with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Releford led the team with 18 points, while Johnson finished with 10. McLemore however, struggled in the contest, going just 3-of-12 from the floor, finishing with just seven points.